Burglars steal HK$1 million of abalone from restaurant


HONG KONG, AP

Gourmets hungry for the abalone at one of Hong Kong’s top restaurants will have to wait after burglars made off with one million Hong Kong dollars (US$130,000) worth of the pricey seafood.

A worker at Forum Restaurant in the Causeway Bay area arrived at work early Tuesday to discover that a back gate had been pried open and the restaurant’s supply of dried abalone was gone, police spokeswoman Suzanne Lee said Wednesday.

Police were investigating but had no suspects, Lee said.

Restaurateur Yeung Koon-yat, known as Hong Kong’s “Abalone King,” was quoted as saying it might take three months to replenish the stock of top-quality abalone from Japan.

The sea mollusks go into dishes costing up to 30,000 Hong Kong dollars (US$3,800).

“We have to order new stock immediately so that our business can run as normal,” Yeung was quoted as telling the South China Morning Post.

Yeung said he typically sells almost 1,000 abalone per month, though business has fallen about 30 percent during Hong Kong’s recent economic downturn. He said the thieves also stole dried sharks fin and bird’s nest, two of the other Chinese delicacies with astronomical prices.

No one answered the phone at Forum when The Associated Press rang early Wednesday.