“So what's new about these?” said our friend as the food came out. After 24 years of consistency with tacos, bowls and burritos, we were at Wahoo's inside Fashion Island having a beer (thank you, full bar), waiting for dinner. Turns out 2013 would be more than a silver anniversary for a quick-service brand started by three affable brothers back in 1988. The 25th of each month brought something to the masses. Back in January, it was a 25-cent sale of their fish taco. Next month, everybody's getting sunscreen from partner Ocean Potion. But May was about the Citrus Slaw Taco.
Our group dined family-style with Mingo Lee, one third of the founding members, grilling him for information as rice, beans, chips and guac arrived. He explained the purpose of our visit.
After being in business for as long as they have, it was time to shake things up in the kitchen. A quarter century milestone was their opportunity to do something different. Inspired by his wife's recipes, the Citrus Slaw Taco was born– a mix of cabbage, cilantro, onions and carrots, tossed with lime juice and olive oil. Mingo preferred his with carnitas, but we also tried versions with shrimp, chicken and fish. Their slaw was appropriately timed, with barbecue season around the corner. It'll be released for a limited time. However, new menu boards are already in the works. We anticipate it being a permanent fixture.
Plans for expansion include a recent opening in Henderson (Nevada), Woodland Hills, up north in San Jose and Japan. Their Tokyo branch will be atop a seven story mall, adjacent to a skate park. By the end of the year, Wahoo's will be over 70 locations strong. Not bad for surfers with a passion for eclectic cuisine.
Their promo of the month is straightforward: Order a Citrus Slaw Taco with your combo meal, and receive a free fountain drink. Good this weekend (Saturday and Sunday) only. If they throw in Memorial Day, we might just order it while stuck in holiday traffic.
Find your local Wahoo's Fish Taco at www.wahoos.com (Pick up an OC Weekly while you're at it!).