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Burlingame Restaurant Pulls Lion Meat From Menu After Uproar

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A skewer of farm-raised African lion meat being served at Mokatanya Yakitori Restaurant in Burlingame. (CBS)

A skewer of farm-raised African lion meat being served at Mokatanya Yakitori Restaurant in Burlingame. (CBS)

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BURLINGAME (KPIX 5) — A restaurant on the Peninsula that offers several exotic animals on the menu has stopped serving lion meat following an uproar online.

Mokutanya Yakitori Restaurant in Burlingame received a shipment of the lion meat last Thursday. Customers who tried the meat told KPIX 5 it was chewy and a cross between beef and chicken.

Owner Jason Li said he received numerous complaints through the restaurant’s Facebook page. After two days, Li pulled the king of the jungle from the menu Saturday night and apologized on the restaurant’s website for offending anyone.

“There’s a lot of people, they’re not ready for this type of meat serving, so I was thinking, just stop,” Li told KPIX 5.

Hundreds of comments on the restaurant’s Facebook page showed outrage and disgust. Some of the people commenting threatened protests, boycotts and violence against the owner.

Li said he was surprised at the response online. “I wouldn’t be thinking that many people would be against it. I was thinking more people would be okay, I’m not forcing them to eat it. If they want to try, they can try.”

Mokutanya was selling a five ounce skewer of farm raised African lion for $70. The restaurant said only about two dozen customers sampled the exotic offering.

“I would not have ordered it just because it seems too different for me,” said Angie Turri of Burlingame, who was eating at Mokutanya Tuesday night.

Others, like Anna Martinez, said they missed an opportunity. “I’m adventurous with food,” Martinez said.

While lion is a threatened species, it is not illegal to sell lion meat. Li said he is open to serve lion meat again in the future. As for the few pounds of lion he had left, Li seemed unsure what he would do.

“I’m not selling it. I wouldn’t eat it myself,” he said.

Even without lion, the menu at Mokutanya still offers a variety of exotic meat, including, peacock, alligator, kangaroo, swan, and silkworm. The restaurant said they account for about 5 to 10 percent of what people order.

Mokutanya’s owner said the lion meat has not affected business at the restaurant either way.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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