On The Line: Wing Lam of Wahoo's Fish Taco, Part One

Photo by Meranda Carter
One-third of the founding brothers behind Orange County's quick-casual eatery simply known as Wahoo's is not just On The Line, but on the go. We accompany Wing in the carpool lane one afternoon as he reflects on his education and passion for cooking to the masses. Buckle up!

What are six words to describe your food?
Clean fun food for the soul.

What are eight words to describe you?
Laid back surfer, golfer, snowboarder, yogi turned cook.

Your best recent food find:
Tofu tacos--so healthy.

Most undervalued ingredient:
Cilantro--makes everything taste so good.

Rules of conduct in your kitchen:
Keep it clean.

One food you detest.
Bad deli meat - ruins a perfect sandwich.

One food you can't live without:
Chinese from my parents (they owned Shanghai Pine Garden on Balboa Island). Specifically, the three-flavor sizzling rice soup.

Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:
Mexican food.

What fast food do you admit to eating?
In-N-Out--it's fresh. I order a single hamburger with grilled onions and french fries.

Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Learn to time your cooking.

After-work hangout:
Newport Beach Tennis Club.

Favorite celebrity chef.
Guy Fieri--he never has to cook, just eat.

Celebrity chef who should shut up.
Rocco DiSpirito--who needs to yell at people? [Editor's Note: He's referring to DiSpirito's first foray into reality TV in The Restaurant.]

Favorite music to cook by:
Cat Stevens.

Best food city in America:
Austin - Food trucks and BBQ everywhere.

What you'd like to see more of in Orange County, from a culinary standpoint:
More ethnic foods in all neighborhoods.

What you'd like to see less of in Orange County, from a culinary standpoint:
Fast food.

Favorite cookbooks:
Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.

When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?
Surfing or teaching.

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
Some sort of olive thing - whatever you call it. Molecular food at The Bazaar in Los Angeles. It looked like a quail egg served in a Chinese spoon.

You're making breakfast. What are you having?
Scrambled eggs, potatoes, and a fruit smoothie (whatever is in season).

You're at the market. What do you buy two of?
Heirloom tomatoes--they are so good sliced with olive oil and salt.

Weirdest customer request (and did you do it?:
Mossimo (Giannulli, the clothing designer) used to come in and order a chicken bowl, and wanted it tossed; so we joked that we threw it on the ground.

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My Voice Nation Help

I know localvore movement has become trendy these days, but does this mean we should really celebrate mediocre, over-priced fast food here just because they're local?

Should we start celebrating Taco Bell because its headquartered in Irvine as well?


Thanks for the good eats... I dont eat as much Wahoos as I used to but back in the mid 90's when I was in the Marines, my roomate and I used to go surfing every sunday and on the way back to base we would stop at the wahoos on Newport blvd off of the 5.  For almost 3 years that was my sunday dinner (Except when we were deployed)... My buddy died of liver cancer a couple years ago (probably courtesy of the military) but a couple things alwas remind me of him... On the rare occaision that I actually make it out to surf or when I eat at wahoos..

Anne Marie
Anne Marie

A localvore/locavore is someone who eats food that is locally produced. Wing did not explicitly say he was a locavore. If you are disagreeing with the food, it's always a matter of taste, and everyone has their preferences.

On The Line interviews chefs of OC-based establishments. If you would like to see a particular person featured, send the names our way, and we'll ask if they would like to be interviewed.

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