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Wahoo's Wing Lam & Family

The Journey from Mainland China to Balboa Island

  Wing - inside Museum 

Wing Lam and his parents, Lee Cheong Kwong and Lee So Ching

  Wing - Wing Lam 

“Of all places my parents could have immigrated to in America, thank God they chose Balboa Island, right?” So says Wing Lam, perhaps best known as the co-founder of Wahoo’s Fish Taco restaurant chain.

The incredible story of the Lee family spans over half a century and across half the globe. Their journey begins in Mainland China and winds its way to Hong Kong, Tokyo, Brazil, and finally to Balboa Island, where they open the first Chinese restaurant in the area, Shanghai Pine Garden. Their story is filled with hardship and challenges that most of us could not even imagine. Yet through it all, their passion for life and love of family resulted in a perpetual joy that radiates to all who come into their presence.

Wing, the third of five sons, was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and moved to California as a teenager in 1975. He didn’t speak English and was one of the only Asian children at his school in Costa Mesa. Like his parents, he overcame these challenges and with two of his brothers went on to open Wahoo’s Fish Taco, which today is one of Orange County’s iconic restaurant brands.

The stories of the Lee family will fill you with laughter and possible a few tears, as well. Come and find out how John Wayne helped to put Shanghai Pine Garden on the map (and experience a rare treat of Mr. Lee singing the Chinese opera song that Wayne enjoyed so much)!

This free lecture is presented by the Balboa Island Museum and Historical Society thanks to a cultural arts grant from the Newport Beach City Arts Commission.

The lecture will be preceded by a reception on the patio at 6pm.

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