Craving for some cheesy nachos and cheeky cocktails? Studio City by Cali-Mex is on a mission to fulfil all your Tex-Mex desires.
Turns out it doesn’t have to be a Tuesday for us to go loco over tacos. Cali-Mex, the Mexican joint we all know and love, has introduced its latest venture in Hong Kong: Studio City by Cali-Mex. Designed to be an upscaled version of Cali-Mex, this new restaurant aims to offer ‘higher-end’ Tex-Mex cuisines while retaining the contemporary, casual vibes of the brand. So far, so good? Read on to find out what we think.
The general vibes
Maybe it’s because we dropped by the restaurant at a later time that day, but Fashion Walk was quieter than usual. We sat beneath the turquoise parasols in the al fresco area, enjoying a light breeze, and gushing over the cute pets that passed by occasionally (yes, the outdoors area is pet-friendly!).
In contrast to the sea of teal umbrellas outside the restaurant, the interiors had warm terracotta walls, reminiscent of sunny days in Southern Cali. Pieces of art deco and beau art were dotted around the site, adding brightness and creative energy.
Drinking the heat away
Did we just say we had a light breeze? Ignore us. It’s the start of summer, and we almost immediately needed a cool-down. Thankfully, we were offered the signature Where There’s Smoke to start with. It comprised Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, mango, jalapeños and torched lime. With an extra ring of jalapeños and salt on the rim, the drink was fruity, sweet, and spicy all at once. We liked that the spiciness added a kick while not overpowering the tropical flavours. Noice.
Next, we opted for the Classic Margarita. Consisting of fresh lime, triple sec, and the premium Casamigos Blanco Tequila (made with 100 percent agave), the cocktail went down pretty smoothly–perhaps even more refreshing than the average margarita.
Getting fed up right
Then came the food. We first had the Acapulco Ceviche; there were two to three pieces of different kinds of seafood, amounting to a fairly generous portion (considering the price). The acidity of the citrus marinade, which was somewhere between a vinaigrette and a cold broth, was tangy and rather savoury while carefully balanced by diced tomatoes. This greatly enhanced the seafood, though it was already delectable due to the freshness and crisp textures.
To follow, we had the charcoal-grilled Chicken Tinga Quesadillas. It would be a good choice for Tex-Mex first-timers, with tender chicken, chorizo, tomato and cheese–a pretty safe combo, really.
But nothing prepared us for the giant that was the Nachos Grande. The bowl was heaped with freshly fried corn tortillas, black beans, pico de gallo, chipotle sauce, sour cream, jalapeños, guacamole and melted cheeses. That’s a pretty decent list. On top of those, there was the choice of pulled chicken, pork carnitas, grilled ribeye steak, or spinach and mushroom (veggie option) added to the mix. Despite having a mountain of ingredients, flavours were well balanced, and the crunch of the nachos just made everything that much better.
With a limited group, we didn’t get to try the Tableside Guacamole nor the tacos. We wish we got to have a taste of the vegetarian Nopales with the grilled cactus–sounds funky, right? There was also a great range of shareable plates from the traditional La Parilla (Mexican grill), like sea bass, ribeye steak, and even a huge tomahawk.
The menu at Studio City may be pared down compared to that of Cali-Mex Taqueria, but everything was of a superior quality and worth the price. While the tranquil and laidback atmosphere was a pleasant surprise during our visit, we could imagine bigger and rowdier crowds during happy hour, which isn’t half bad (okay, we’d love it really). With the thirst-quenching Mexican beers and toothsome tostadas to match, we’re already looking forward to another visit on a hot summer’s day.
Studio City by Cali-Mex, Shop C, G/F, Fashion Walk, 50-56 Paterson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, p. 2889 1689