Reykjavik, Iceland Chef Ulfar Eysteinsson prides himself on providing the finest 14-year-old whale steak at his popular restaurant in downtown Reykjavik.
But as diners tucked into lunch Friday under the gaze of stuffed puffins and codfish, Eysteinsson was dreaming up garnishes for a new version of the old menu special -- fresh whale meat.
Eysteinsson, the lead chef at Thrir Frakkar (Three Frenchmen), plans to be at the front of the line when the government begins selling meat left over from scientific hunts of minke whales this year.
"The meat from the whale is the best meat, there is nothing else like it," Eysteinsson said.
Iceland's decision to kill 38 minkes -- each weighing up to 10 tons -- for scientific testing has been condemned by environmental groups and several nations, including the United States and Britain. It also has caused consternation here among tourism operators who fear the country's whale watching industry will suffer.
Iceland cut back on plans for a bigger take that angered opponents when it was presented at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission, the world regulatory body, in June.
The plan then was to kill 100 minkes, 100 fin whales and 50 sei whales for each of the next two years.
The government says the cull is needed to study what's in the stomachs of the minke whales and see if they feed too much on fish stocks.