Santa Monica Sushi Restaurant Charged With Serving Whale Meat

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Federal authorities have charged a trendy Santa Monica sushi restaurant with serving whale meat — an investigation that was spurred by the team behind the Oscar-winning documentary, “The Cove.”

Prosecutors charged Typhoon Restaurant Inc., the parent company of The Hump, and one of its chefs — Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, 45 — with the illegal sale of a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purpose.

While it is considered a delicacy in Japan and some other countries, meat from whale — an endangered species — is illegal to consume in the United States.

The misdemeanor charge carries a federal prison sentence of up to a year and a fine of up to $200,000 for the company, said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Lawyers for Typhoon could not be reached for comment. But the restaurant told the Los Angeles Times it accepts responsibility and will pay a fine.

The investigation began in October when two members of the team that made “The Cove” visited The Hump, officials said.

“The Cove,” which exposes the annual killing of dolphins at a Japanese fishing village, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary on Sunday.

The restaurant, located at the Santa Monica Airport, is known for its exotic fare. Its Web site asks diners to surrender themselves to its chefs for “a culinary adventure … unlike any that you have previously experienced.”

Armed with a hidden camera, the two women captured the waitress serving them whale and horse meat and identifying them as such, a federal criminal complaint said. A receipt from the restaurant at the end of the meal identified their selection as “whale” and “horse” with the cost — $85 — written next to them.

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