Game wardens name longtime San Antonio eatery Van’s Restaurant in illegal shark fin investigation

State officials at first declined to name the restaurant involved in the criminal probe.

click to enlarge Van's Restaurant is located at 3214 Broadway. - Google Maps
Google Maps
Van's Restaurant is located at 3214 Broadway.
A state document identifies San Antonio Vietnamese-Chinese cuisine mainstay Van’s Restaurant as the restaurant at the center of an April 2022 Texas Game Wardens shark fin investigation, station KSAT reports.

The Broadway eatery was busted for holding 381 whole shark fins and 29.2 pounds of frozen shark fin meat in its freezer, according to the station, which cites a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department incident report. The meat, prohibited under state law, was valued at $25,000, according to the report.

A restaurant inspection by Texas Game Wardens made headlines this spring after it allegedly turned up a trove of shark fins at a San Antonio eatery. However, state officials declined to name the dining spot where it conducted the bust.

KSAT now reports that the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department was forced to hand over its incident report after a ruling from the Texas Attorney General’s Office. The report states that on April 13, a Texas Game Warden and a K-9 handler performed a compliance inspection within the business and found whole shark fins and peeled shark fins in the commercial walk-in freezer.

The offense — a Class B misdemeanor in Texas— is punishable with up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. The TPWD report shows that charges of "possession for sale, purchase to transport of shark fins and unlawful sale of aquatic products" are currently pending against Thanh Hein Nguyen, Nga To Van and Van To Van, according to KSAT.

Conservation groups have sought to ban trade in shark fins because it leads to a slow death for animals, who drown or starve without the appendages.  As one of the ocean's apex predators, sharks help maintain a natural balance of underwater ecosystems, a Texas Game Warden told the Current in April.

KSAT attempted to contact those charged, but only got through to Nguyen, who denied the allegations and told the station that he “had a lot of people behind him.”

A person who answered the phone listed for Nga To Van told KSAT representatives they had the wrong number and Van To Van did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

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About The Author

Nina Rangel

Nina uses nearly 20 years of experience in the foodservice industry to tell the stories of movers and shakers in the food scene in San Antonio. Her unique culinary background, both in the front and back of the house, supports genuine relationships with food and drink professionals, garnering honest and insightful...
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