Founded in Hong Kong by an Australian entrepreneur, Cali-Mex declares itself as a restaurant that serves ‘Mexican food in a healthy Californian style.’ Recently opened in the Super Park area of the new Suzhou Olympic Sports Center, this is the chain’s very first outlet on the Chinese mainland.
The Food & Drinks
We kicked things off with a mescal mule (RMB78) that features a nice smoky mescal but lacked the potent contrast of zingy lime. The strawberry real ice cream milkshake (RMB58) was disappointing too because of its insipid and synthetic taste. Bonus points, though, for using non-plastic straws in both drinks.
Lack of taste seems to be a recurring theme here. The spinach and artichoke dip (RMB58), while perfectly pleasant, was bland. A small amount of Parmesan gave things a salty kick, but wasn’t enough to truly lift the dish.
The sharing platter (RMB228) featuring quesadillas and tortilla chips was very beige, but thankfully the guacamole (add RMB18) gave it some color and a zesty kick. The beer battered baja fish soft shell tacos (add RMB20) had a generous amount of protein and a fresh salsa that could have been spicier.
In contrast, the barbacoa beef enchiladas featured just the right amount of heat. The flavors, however, were slightly one-dimensional with only the slightest hint of smokiness in the beef. By contrast, the chipotle pulled pork quesadillas were good, stuffed full of delicious, flavorsome meat, juicy tomatoes and gooey, melted cheese.
We were the only customers on a Friday night, and the huge space felt empty and cold despite its fresh colors and cute diner-style seating booths.
[All photos courtesy of Tess Humphreys/That's]