Mexican food in Hong Kong is at that juncture where there are enough restaurants serving good fare, but not so many that you get sick of it. I must admit beforehand – I’ve never been to either Mexico or California (where most of the Mexican culture is exported from), so when people in Hong Kong complain that a particular ‘Me-hi-can’ restaurant is not authentic – I don’t know what they expect. But the name itself ‘Cali-Mex’ is a great place to begin with for those who might complain that it’s not authentic Mexican food.
I grew more interest in the joint when I learned from their website that the concept was inspired by one road trip from North America to Mexico. I visited the place with a friend a few weeks back to treat ourselves to what is known as Mexican inspired American fast food on the streets of Hong Kong. The very first thing I noticed after stepping in was the smart cozy décor with orange and red colors that looked quite appealing alongside the wooden panels flaunting the cool street art. Also, a standee with the offer of ‘Check-In at Cali-Mex to get a free soda’ – which was the littlest bottle of Coca Cola I’ve ever seen – but free none the less.
The menu was elaborate, but crisp. And the way to order was unique: steps 1 through 5 made perfect sense with so many possible combinations on offer. First, we chose our items, then we selected the filling (chicken, beef, veggies, or seafood). Next, we chose the style of beans and lastly the level of spiciness. I ordered the BBQ Beef Burrito – with the meat marinated for 48 hours before putting it over the flame. It was quite…what the word…yum!
Well, the beef wasn’t enough to satiate the foodie at heart. So I endorsed we eat pork at Cali-Mex. Now, I can safely say that this had been my favorite dish — Quesadillas with the filling of Chipotle pork in a high spice level, my friend mentioned that it was the closest thing to Chipotle in HK. It’s a dish for 2, or as I call it – a 2 meal dish for 1. We had also ordered from the seafood selection — Fisherman’s Wharf Shrimp Crispy Taco had the delectably tender shrimp that tasted super fresh (thank god, it wasn’t deep-fried!). And the Baja Fish Soft Taco was one of those few items that taste’s healthy, yet great. And to convince some of my friends – ‘No fishy smell’!
Cali-Mex also offers a variety for the meat haters or green-lovers as they call themselves. Spinach Crispy Shell Saladas is one such for the health-conscious foodie. We chose that, but there is more at Cali-Mex. The menu speaks of Mixed Bean, Mixed Vegetables and Venice Beach Vegan, all cooked in delicious spices that add to the taste.
Lastly we ordered for Churros with Chocolate Sauce. When was the last time you had a churro in Hong Kong? No matter how long back, you must try the Churros at Cali-Mex if you are in Hong Kong – but that’s if you’re not too full. To wind up, Cali-Mex is a really good value for money, great taste and the freshest ingredients I’ve had in Mexican dishes. I’m glad that they have opened 6 restaurants so far and hopefully they have plans to open few in Kowloon side as well.
If you are there, you have to also try Jarritos, the most popular drink of Mexico with a variety of natural fruit flavors like guava, mango, lime, pineapple and mandarin. I tried Mango – 10/10 will try again.
Cali-Mex Locations in Hong Kong
• Wellington Street 71, Central – 2511-4798
• 25 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai – 2772-2525
• 13-15 Tong Chong Street (corner of Hoi Kwong Street), Quarry Bay – 2705- 2833
• 7 Lan Kwai Fong – 2904-7855
• 77 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan (Now Open) – 2489-2881
• Luard Road, Wan Chai (Opening in January 2015)