A new restaurant selling Mexican sushi and seafood has opened its first location in Fresno.
It’s called Culichi Town. It has at least 18 eateries in California and a few southwestern states. Its newest location opened Friday at 2700 W. Shaw Ave., in the original Tahoe Joe’s location near Marks Avenue.
What the heck is Mexican sushi?
It’s pretty different than the sushi you’re used to here in Fresno. There’s beef and cheese involved, for starters.
See, Mexican sushi started getting popular in the seaside state of Sinoloa in Mexico in 2007, said Culichi Town general manager Ruben Montiel. It was street food, kind of like tacos sold from taco trucks.
Culiacán is the city that inspired this restaurant. People from there are called culichi, Montiel said.
“It’s not about the traditional Mexican food, the burritos – that’s the last thing they will eat,” said Santiago Santos, the chain’s beverage director.
Sushi here involves a lot of shrimp and avocado. Many rolls are topped with a sweet eel sauce.
But then things take a different turn.
There’s no salmon or tuna. Instead, you’ll find chicken, beef – even bacon – in the rolls. And lots of Philadelphia cream cheese.
“We use nothing that is uncooked or raw,” Montiel said.
The Lupillo roll, for example, is made with cream cheese, avocado, shrimp and crab, and topped with breaded shrimp, Sriracha and eel sauce.
Many of the rolls are deep fried. That includes the Guerrero roll, which has beef, chicken, bacon, cream cheese and Monterey cheese. Each roll is individually breaded and deep fried, and topped with cilantro and chipotle dressing.
Of course, there’s a lot more than sushi happening here.
Shrimp is all over the menu, with several types of shrimp cocktails and a shrimp dish topped with Hot Cheetos, cucumbers and red onion. There are shrimp empanadas, ceviche and a seafood tower that has shrimp, octopus, scallops and imitation crab.
Menus come in both Spanish and English. Just ask if you end up with the wrong one.
And there’s lots of beer, margaritas and micheladas to pair with it all.
The regular michelada (typically made with beer, tomato juice and spices) is the most popular drink here, said Santos, who oversees the beverages at all the Culichi Town locations.
What makes it different?
“This is the secret sauce,” he says, pulling out a small ladle full of a dark red sauce that goes into the micheladas.
“Not even I know the recipe,” he said. “It’s made secretly somewhere in one of the restaurants.”
The VIP michelada comes topped with cucumber and eight shrimp.
You can also get a tamarind margarita, cocktails made with fresh fruit and traditional cocktails like a Manhattan or a lemon drop.
The bar itself is large, complete with flashing lights that change color below the bartop.
If you remember what the building used to look like when it was Tahoe Joe’s, you might be surprised at what it looks like now. The building got a complete renovation.
The outside is painted white and looks completely different. Inside, the walls are painted in bright, red and green shades, and loud music pumps throughout the dining room.
The restaurant has live entertainment seven days a week.
Details: Culichi Town is at 2700 West Shaw Avenue in Fresno and can be reached at 559-277-3337.