From Flavor Town to Culichi Town
Culichi Town2243 Arden Way
Sacramento, CA 95825
The awkward space that currently houses Culichi Town, a “Sinaloa-style” sushi and Mexican seafood restaurant, used to house another fusion sushi spot: Guy Fieri’s Tex Wasabi, which itself was an unholy alliance of barbecue and sushi.
It might seem dangerous, nay foolhardy, to open a fusion sushi restaurant in a space that had hosted a similar spot, but Culichi Town, a burgeoning chain with 12 locations in the United States and another coming soon to Elk Grove, has a unique angle that just might work.
This comes in the form of ear-splitting live norteño and mariachi music. If you roll up on a weekend, there is a wait (and valet for the packed parking lot), but likely only for the elevated part of the restaurant near the stage.
The semi-circle vinyl booths near the stage are the baller spots for big groups that want to hear the music, and who are willing to wait quite a while. The other area of booths and tables, which I’ll call “the sunken place,” has no wait. The sight line of the band is blocked by the large square bar in the middle of the restaurant and when the band is playing it’s too loud to converse comfortably, so it’s kind of the worst of both worlds.
The menu happily offers Smoked Marlin Quesadillas ($3.45); this Mazatleco-style dish is not found elsewhere in Sacramento, not even at the late, great Mariscos Mazatlan. The Culichi version with ham-like, chewy marlin and melt-y cheese is a reasonable facsimile of those you will encounter in a beachfront shack in Maz, but additional menu items like the Octopus ($3.95) and Fish Tacos ($2.65) are deadly dull.
All of the sushi rolls on order contain cream cheese and none include raw seafood; Jiro Dreams of Sushi this is not. Even though the Quesito Roll ($13.95) is filled with shrimp, steak and topped with grilled cheese and bacon, it somehow has only a ghost of a flavor that could be best described as “fried.” It’s a leaden rice brick that has absolutely nothing about it that evokes sushi.
The best tactic is to stick with the shrimp dishes, which make up the bulk of the menu. The raw shrimp in the Aguachile ($23.95) is meltingly tender and sweet, but it had better be at that price. Almost as good is the “Hulk” ($12.95), a ceviche so-named because of the deep green color of the cilantro sauce and the pale green of the cubed cucumber.
The service exhibits missteps, and a perusal of scorching Yelps reveal that many customers experienced far worse than my visits with the non-delivery of empanadas from a courteous, but scattered server. They never do arrive and are taken off the check.
If you and your family (or date) want to get your banda on in a lively and raucous atmosphere, wait for a booth or table near the stage, forgo the syrupy margaritas and enjoy a Michelada made with Pacifico (brewed in Sinaloa), and split some shrimp dishes. Otherwise, stay outta C. Town.