This article shares a little known piece of southern California history and culture centered around the fusion of Asian and American food cultures and also tells a story of Asian immigration to the United States in the 70s. I lived in Orange County my entire life until I was eighteen years old. I have eaten at several Wahoo’s fish taco locations throughout the county with my family; after grocery shopping trips or various errands, catching up with my friends on the weekends, or getting a bite to eat after a day at the beach. I never knew until I saw this article on NBC Asian America after moving 3000 miles across the country that this OC restaurant chain was pioneered by a Chinese American immigrant.
Owner and creator Wing Lam, with his brothers Eduardo and Ming, outlines his experiences that led him to success in his entrepreneurial venture. He credits his success to an incredible work ethic that was necessary in the early stages of the business instilled in him by his parents in his youth as they fled from China to Brazil and then to the United States. He also studied business and finance at San Diego State University which he said helped him in having a proper business sense, despite not fitting into the corporate mold. I think that these two examples which led him to success are also examples of the model minority at work. Lam obeyed his parents and worked hard for what he accomplished and attended college and did not study the humanities. However, this “mold” is what Lam needed to break out of in order to create his successful restaurant chain.
In addition, the Lam’s family restaurant chain is an early example as Asian fusion cuisine, mixing the Asian cultures of his childhood, with the influence of nearby Mexico and the surf culture of Orange County to create one of the early examples of Asian fusion food