February 4, 2009 | 12:00am
Twenty years. That's how long Wahoo's Fish Tacos has been in business. When surfer dudes Wing Lam, Ed Lee and Mingo Lee opened their first Wahoo's in Costa Mesa, the original Batman with Nicholson as the Joker was the big movie. The Simpsons were still on Tracey Ullman. And me? Well, I was still in middle school, without a clue what a fish taco was, let alone that there was a pioneering place called Wahoo's serving them.
It wasn't until years later, when they'd already opened their other Costa Mesa location on Bristol and Baker, that I tried one.
This February 22, the original Wahoo's will have a grand reopening of their first Costa Mesa store (1862 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626), where the self described "Mexican-Brazilian-Asian" chain started.
The place has been remodeled, and there will be a ribbon-cutting, $0.20 tacos, prizes, red-carpet stuff to celebrate their 20 years in business as one of O.C.'s home-bred success stories. Festivities go from 10:20 AM - 3 PM on Sunday, Feb. 22.
Although I don't particularly care for their fish tacos (I like 'em deep fried and unhealthy, thank you very much) they're about the only chain I know that serves authentic-tasting sambal (Indonesian chili paste). I slather gobs of it over my Wahoo's meal of choice: the carne asada wet burrito.
Haven't tried their sambal? Well, they don't call it that. Ask for Mr. Lee's Hot Sauce. And then ask for water.