A Sea Of Choices At Wahoo’s

Jo McGarry
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Friday - March 17, 2006
| Del.icio.us | podcast Podcast | WineAndDineHawaii.com

Co-owner Stephanie Pietsch says they make everything from scratch at Wahoo’s Fish Taco
Co-owner Stephanie Pietsch
says they make everything from
scratch at Wahoo’s Fish Taco

Here’s a couple of things you should know about Wahoo’s Fish Taco. It’s not a fast food joint, and the Ahee rice isn’t a misspelled reference to tuna.

“Ahee rice is a specialty of ours,” says co-owner Stephanie Pietsch, of the steamed, seasoned white rice, “and they say ‘Ahi rice’ on the Mainland - but we knew that would cause confusion in Hawaii, so we changed the spelling.”

If you went to Wahoo’s during its opening few weeks in January, you may have had a bit of a wait.

“We were slammed,” says Pietsch. “There were lines around the building for weeks.”

Fortunately the rush has died down, the kitchen has caught up and reports are good about the service at Wahoo’s.

“Our servers are getting a fantastic response from customers,” says Pietsch, “and they take the time to explain the menu to everyone, so that helps people order.”

Pietsch recommends new customers come to try Wahoo’s Fish Taco in the late afternoon or early evening.

“The lunch rush is going to be the lunch rush,” she says with a smile, “so don’t come at noon for your first visit. Come on a weeknight, or even on a weekend, and you’ll find a much slower-paced, more-relaxed atmosphere.”

Wahoo’s serves beer, wine and margaritas to complement its “blend of Mexican, Brazilian and Asian flavors.”

“We make everything from scratch,” says Pietsch, “and our menu is full of really healthy food that’s served quickly - but not super fast.”

While the restaurant’s name declares fish tacos, the menu offers much more.

Fish, chicken, steak, pork, veggies and shrimp are all offered in a variety of styles.

“We like to educate the customers so that they have a good experience,” says Pietsch, “so we ask a lot of questions and then make recommendations.”

Highly recommended are the No. 2 Combo - tacos or enchiladas filled with anything from blackened or flame-broiled fish to sautéed teriyaki vegetables, grilled chicken, sautéed shrimp, marinated steak or pot-braised pork. The combo plate comes with Ahee rice and a choice of black beans or spicy Cajun-style white beans. If you’re a healthy eater, then you’ll really love the way this food is prepared. The fat is pulled from the pork, the beans aren’t the lard-filled, refried variety, and the rice is light and flavorful. There’s a house roasted pepper-cilantro sauce that comes with the salads that’s very good, and I bet if you ask they’ll serve it with your tacos too.

And those with larger appetitites apparently love combination No. 5.

“Our No. 5 combo platter is a huge favorite with guys,” says Pietsch. You get a taco or enchilada (with any filling) and three taquitos with rice and beans for $9.75.

“We’re the only place in Hawaii that makes fresh taquitos,” says Pietsch, “and I think people love that.”

Portions are large, and there are salads and “Wahoo bowls” (the fillings without the wraps, served over rice with salsa) that look like a kind of Mexican-influenced plate lunch.

The idea of bringing Wahoo’s (a Mainland chain with more than 40 locations) to Hawaii came to Pietsch when she was working in sports marketing on the Mainland. “I met the owner when I was working for the Angels baseball team,” she says, “and I thought this would be a great fit for Hawaii.”

Fresh, healthy food, served in a casual and fun environment, with service that’s good and quick. Just remember, not fast.

Wahoo’s Fish Taco 940 Auahi St. Honolulu 591-1646

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