Flamin' Hot

Tex-Mex Tuesday: Culichi Town

Freshen up your ceviche routine at this Sinaloan-style seafood spot.

By Alice Levitt March 7, 2017

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Tostada Hot Cheetos, $10.99.

Image: Alice Levitt

adj. 1.the one that is afraid of things. 2. noun. women from the mexican city of Culiacan, Sinaloa, that have prominent hips, prominent thighs and few breast (never the less they are some of the most beautiful women in Mexico). 3. A woman with a nice big ass.

This is according to Urban Dictionary, which a colleague and I checked just after visiting Culichi Town, a new Sinaloan-style sushi and seafood restaurant in Aldine. Since the food is anything but shy and retiring, we realized we had just dined in a Sinaloan breastaurant without even noticing. So much for our journalistic knack for observation. But we had a pretty good excuse: el Tostada Hot Cheetos is its name.

Culichi Town is a little over-the-top in every way. From its logo featuring a shrimp and what appears to be a tomato resting on the pi symbol, to its vast grass-thatched outdoor dining area to its giant stage intended for daily Norteño concerts, nothing about the restaurant feels quite of this Earth, or at the very least of Houston. Maybe it's because the concept originates in California? The Houston location joins seven Culichi Towns all serving the same menu throughout Southern Cali. Which means each plies its trade in the same brand of gentle madness.

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Tostada ceviche de pescado, $8.99.

Image: Alice Levitt

Not that everything on the menu is as bonkers as the Cheetos. And in fact, that dish was surprisingly placid and well-balanced. It wasn't nearly as acidic as the seductively aggressive ceviche de pescado, an equally spicy and tangy mix of fish, cucumber, shredded carrot, tomato, cilantro and onion. Besides the tortilla chips with which we were presented when we sat down (the red salsa was the only thing muted about the whole experience), the oversized tostadas named in the dishes came in a basket along with with individually wrapped Saltines.

But if you like your acid-cured mariscos of a different persuasion than those noted above, there are more than 30 other choices. They range from the vaguely insane (the Tostada Crazy has shrimp and your basic vegetables, but also chamoy-covered chips, in the same salsa negra as the pescado) to the oddly named but perfectly normal Tostada Hulk, which is as green as advertised, thanks to a combo of shrimp, onion, cucumber and cilantro in salsa verde.

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Guerrero Roll, $13.99.

Image: Alice Levitt

There's more to the menu than ceviches, botanas and cocteles, too. Don't forget: Sushi is in Culichi Town's description. Surprise, surprise, Sinaloan sushi doesn't have much in common with Japanese sushi. First of all, if you have an aversion to cream cheese, don't even bother. If you're avoiding fried food, this hyper-specific branch of world cuisine also probably isn't for you. But if you're open-minded, order a Guerrero Roll.

What makes it sushi? Um, there is sticky rice and avocado in those batter-dipped slices. What else? Pretty much everything you wouldn't expect to see in something described as sushi: Besides the cream cheese, there's a stretchy cheese we were fairly certain is mozzarella. Then there's the meat, slices of beef and chicken, as well as crumbled bacon. It's presented encircling a haystack of sweet carrot salad, with squiggles of what I guessed was probably eel sauce. Was it delicious? Hell yeah, like fried mozzarella sticks with meat in it. Sushi? If you're from Sinaloa, absolutamente.

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