Taste Testing New Hawaiian Burrito with Wing Lam at Wahoo’s

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Wahoo’s co-founder Wing Lam with the new Hawaiian burrito. Credit: Christopher Trela

Who doesn’t love Wahoo’s Fish Taco?

The fast-casual brand, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2018, was founded by brothers Wing Lam, Ed Lee and Mingo Lee. They started with one small restaurant in Costa Mesa and slowly built a culinary empire that today has more than 60 restaurants worldwide.

“We can attribute our 30 years of business to serving food we would cook for our own families and working with brands we love. The stickers and memorabilia in our stores are part of who we are as a company,” Lam said in 2018.

Wahoo’s is known for its fish tacos and seldom adds new items to its menu, so it’s a big deal when a new dish is introduced.

Earlier this month, Wahoo’s began serving a new Hawaiian burrito that features teriyaki carne asada, crunchy onion rings, savory white rice, Maria’s spicy green sauce, a creamy jalapeno salsa, sour cream, and melted cheese wrapped in a toasty flour tortilla.

Lam recently invited me to lunch at the Fashion Island Wahoo’s to try the new burrito, so of course I said yes.

“If you like onion rings and Hawaiian teriyaki flavor, you’ll really like it,” Lam told me as we took a seat in the restaurant. “We spent a lot of time tinkering with the burrito. The idea was to make it filling, but not go too far from what we do with the flavor profile. People always like our onion rings, and its portable.”

It may be portable, but it’s heavy and huge.

The new Hawaiian burrito from Wahoo’s. Credit: Christopher Trela

“It’s almost 20 ounces, about a pound and a quarter,” Lam said. “It’s filling, flavorful, spicy, and sweet. It should touch a lot of your senses.”

My favorite Wahoo’s item is the No. 2 with fish tacos, white rice and black beans. Lam noted that it was one of most popular combos on the menu and offers different flavors with rice and beans, but “with the burrito, everything is in one little deal.”

Make that a big deal. When the Hawaiian burritos arrived at our table (one for me, one for Lam), I wondered if I could eat the entire thing in one sitting. It’s a generous portion and makes for a filling meal.

“We’ve been testing it for about a month,” Lam said. “I think it’s absolutely fabulous. It’s sweet and spicy at the same time.”

I took a bite and immediately agreed.

“The spice is powerful, but then the sweetness cuts into it,” I told him.

Wing Lam founder of the restaurant chain, Wahoo’s. Credit: Michelle Paragan

“And vice versa,” he replied. “It’s well integrated. Everyone that has tried it, likes it. It checks all the boxes for me.”

One consideration Lam had while testing the burrito was the timing of all the ingredients being cooked so they would all be ready at the same time.

“You have onion rings fried to order, steak cooked to order, so there was some timing involved,” Lam explained. “Yes, there are a lot of calories in this, but you don’t order this burrito if you are on a diet.”

Lam noted that while taste testing the Hawaiian burrito, they tried a lot of ingredients that individually taste good but did not go together in one dish. The carne asada was the clear protein winner, although he said pork worked well too.

As we dined, Lam mentioned other recent Wahoo’s activities, including their forays into sports arenas. Wahoo’s is the largest food concession at Staples Center, and also has a presence in Honda Center, among other venues.

He will also be on the new Kelly Clarkson daytime talk show for a Super Bowl food demo to highlight the restaurant’s chips and guacamole, a game day staple.

And by the way, the Hawaiian burrito, which retails for $10.50, is perfect for those looking for a filling meal that’s both spicy and sweet, and totally delicious.

For more information, visit Wahoos.com.

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