We, the family owners of Wong’s King Seafood Restaurant, believe we’ve been treated unfairly and personally attacked by Willamette Week. We are not the only restaurant, nor are we the only trade, serving or selling shark’s fin in Oregon or beyond. Not to condone the cruelty of harvesting the ingredient, but the serving of shark’s fin has been part of Chinese culture and tradition for over 5,000 years. Certainly, it has never been our direct intent to harm sharks or to offend people holding beliefs against the practice. We are deeply upset and stunned by the rash actions of your newspaper. We have had the honor of being praised and highly regarded by WW and your readers, so we are saddened by this article. Since its appearance, Wong’s King has suffered loss of business and received many calls chastising our restaurant and our employees.
Phil Tobin informed us of his intentions to go the media with his cause, but, other than letters, there was no direct contact from him regarding this issue. We did pay attention. We had many factors to consider as businesspeople. At our economic peak a few years ago, we might have acted quickly to stop selling shark’s fin. But, due to the current downturn and as we had the ingredient in stock, we balked at disappointing and losing any clientele, being that shark’s fin is highly expected on an authentic Chinese menu. At least five Chinese restaurants opened within a mile radius of our restaurant just this last year. Why have Mr. Tobin and WW decided to unfairly target Wong’s King directly without an effort to work for a resolution with us and others in the Chinese community? The reasoning? Wong’s King was marked for “special scorn because of its position as a leader in the local restaurant scene.” The world’s ozone layer is also in trouble. Will you write a story targeting one store to stop selling spray cans for the sole reason of its popularity? Wouldn’t it be more effective to try to prevent ALL stores selling spray cans? More harm than good has been done. Some patrons have decided to stop supporting our restaurant, in turn jeopardizing the jobs of our over 100 employees in this fragile local economy. Our lowered revenues mean far reaching setbacks, from the local markets from whom we order, to our support of local community through donations and sponsorships. Singling our business out will not get Mr. Tobin or WW much closer to the intended end result. We are in favor of conserving our world much like Mr. Tobin.
We can do a very small part from the bottom of a very tall totem pole to make a difference. In Hawaii, the governor has banned the sales of shark’s fin entirely in the state. Would it not be more effective to work toward getting Oregon to pass a similar law? We can do our small part. We are willing to set an example and pave the way for other Chinese restaurants to follow by not selling any more shark’s fin. Further, we will educate our customers about the harsh truth of shark fin harvest practices. Please consider retracting your story pointing the finger at our business and our business alone. Let us work together for a solution to benefit all involved; yes, even the defenseless sharks. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Executive Chef, Wong’s King