Table Talk: Cali-Mex Taqueria Review
Review of Cali-Mex Hong Kong. Burritos, salads and tacos - Mexican food, California style. Branches in LKF, Wan Chai, Central and Quarry Bay.
Quick Fix Mexican Food
You may have noticed, but in the last few months there’s been an invasion of brightly styled, fast food joints offering burritos, quesedillas, tacos and saladas on the streets of Hong Kong. With the aim of making an impact, the team behind Cali-Mex have simultaneously opened up branches in Wan Chai, LKF, Central and Quarry Bay and Sheung Wan. The concept is the brainchild of an Australian and Kiwi duo who were inspired by their West Coast road trip and wanted to bring Californian/Mexican flavours to Hong Kong.
We recently headed over the Wan Chai branch to see what the food was all about – will Cali-Mex be our next go-to place for a quick fix of Mexican inspired fast food?
Arriving at just before 12pm on a Thursday afternoon, there was already a small queue forming outside the Queen’s Road East store. Well served by neighbouring Pacific Place and other office blocks, the location is perfect for hungry office workers seeking a quick lunch to take back to the office. There is also upstairs seating for those who don’t want to eat on the hoof.
The ordering process involves five stages: pick your item – burrito, quesadilla, tacos or saladas, then choose your filling, select your beans, choose the spice level, and finally select if you would like some homemade guacamole.
Prices are very reasonable with the burritos starting at only $78 for the original beef, the chicken quesadilla is $118, three soft of crispy shelled tacos start from $78 and the salads start at $98. The focus is also on good quality ingredients so you can expect Australian beef, chicken and US pork along with locally sourced vegetables. Everything is made in Hong Kong and a central kitchen delivers ingredients to each store twice a day ensuring that your tacos and tortillas will be super fresh and tasty.
As this was a media tasting, we were lucky enough to sample food from across the menu. First up we sampled three different burritos (from $78) – the original chicken, the original beef and the barbacoa beef. The burritos are extremely dense, packed with rice and salad along with the meat so make a very filling meal, but unfortunately although we had the medium spiced option the chicken and original beef both lacked flavour and were rather bland. The barbacoa beef was considerably better with a spice mix that lifted the meat and produced a very satisfying burrito.
The star of the show was the pork quesadillas ($128). Ideal for sharing, or not, if you are feeling hungry, the quesadillas was packed full of tasty pulled pork, cheese and topped with delicious homemade guacamole and a sprinkling of greens.
If you are looking for a lighter or vegetarian option, then definitely try one of the salads (from $78). Served either in a bowl or in a crispy shell, the salads are packed with your choice of filling, crispy greens, pico de gallo, and topped with a vinaigrette dressing. I was really impressed with the salad options – the portions represent very good value and they are ideal for vegetarians or anyone who is carb/gluten free. The Venice Beach vegan salad ($98) includes shredded soy chicken, sautéed vegetables and is tossed with pineapple and taco sauce. Served with soy cheese and sour cream, it was hard to tell that the meat wasn’t the real thing. However, I would say that you may want to ask for a bit more spice to give the whole thing a lift.
Next up we sampled the tacos – both soft shelled and crispy (from $78). A serving includes 3 taco shells or freshly baked tortillas with your choice of filling, salad and of course cheese, pico de gallo and sour cream. The fish tacos are made using New Zealand ling fillets marinated in lime, chilli and olive oil. I’m not a fish eater myself, but the consensus on the table that the both the Baja and also the Fisherman’s wharf shrimp tacos were very good. These aren’t first date food as it’s impossible to eat them without making a complete mess, but I did enjoy the chiptole pulled pork option – slightly smokey and served with a decent BBQ sauce.
Finally, after all that, there was just about enough space to sample the Cali-Mex churros – 3 sticks of freshly made churros served with either a chocolate or caramel sauce. Served warm, and with well made sauces, the curros are definitely worth adding to your order and at only $38 they are a cheap and cheerful dessert.
Overall Cali-Mex delivers on it’s promise of Mexican food, California style. It was early days when we visited, so if they can improve their spice levels across the board, it’s a great spot for a quick lunch or early dinner. I will definitely be returning.
71 Wellington Street, Central
25 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai
13-15 Tong Chong Street (corner of Hoi Kwong Street), Quarry Bay
7 Lan Kwai Fong
Check out Cali-Mex on Facebook.