Culichi Kitchen has graduated from a local favorite food truck to an established restaurant, and the people behind this wonderful Mexican food well deserve the upgrade.
Recently opened on State Street in southern Orem, Culichi Kitchen is my new top spot for street tacos, and it should be yours, too. There’s nothing needlessly fancy about Culichi, no bells or whistles — just straightforward, high-quality Mexican food (plus some sushi options on the back of the menu). The main array of meats to choose from for street tacos are steak, pork and chicken, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. All of Culichi’s meats are high-quality cuts and deliciously seasoned and cooked. We especially liked the pork, which delivered a sweet and summery taste with its pineapple flavoring.
Which brings me to my next note — while at the ordering window, you can see the fresh pineapples waiting to be chopped up to flavor the pork, along with the rest of the kitchen’s trappings and ingredients. For me, a good sign of a fresh, trustworthy restaurant is an open view of the kitchen (given that it provides a clean, reassuring view, which this one did). I know some people can be hesitant about the quality and cleanliness of food trucks or small food joints, but from what I saw and tasted, I couldn’t recommend it more. Each of our entrees screamed high quality.
My personal favorite dishes were the Chicken Nachos and the Fried Fish Taco. The nachos were piled high with delicious refried beans, cheese, pico, sour cream and meat, and we opted to top it off with some avocado sauce from the self-serving salsa bar. The best part of the dish, though, was the chips. They tasted warm and fresh from the fryer and had a marvelous taste and crunch.
Now, I’m not even a fan of fish tacos in general, but I gobbled down Culichi’s take on the dish. The piece of beautifully battered and fried fish was so big and wide that when I picked it up to eat it, it was almost more of a tostada than taco with edges of the tortilla barely making it to fold around the sides. It also came with a generous amount of delicious green sauce reminiscent of Cafe Rio dressing.
The service was very kind and helpful (and patient as we indecisively stared at the menu and changed our minds midway through the order).
The quesadilla is another entree I’d highly recommend — I’ve never had a quesadilla so loaded with meat. We had to eat part of it with a fork, because the tortilla just couldn’t contain all of it.
Other dishes we tried included the Fried Shrimp Taco (which made my husband do a happy dance while he was eating it as part of the leftovers I brought home that night), and fried sushi filled with chicken, cheeses and veggies.
In my personal opinion, the sushi was odd, and I wouldn’t order it again. But two of the other diners I was with said they loved it. I personally thought it was an odd clash between American and Asian foods, with the taste of the chicken and melted white cheese and breading combined with seaweed, cucumber and eel sauce.
Horchata is one of my favorite drinks, so I’ve tried it in a lot of different restaurants. Culichi’s take on the cinnamony sweet rice milk wasn’t disappointing, so to speak, but it also wasn’t terribly memorable.
The menu prices aren’t Taco Bell cheap by any means, but for good reason — you’re definitely getting the quality you pay for, and I was quite impressed by what we got for $2.50 to $5 a taco.
Overall, we all agreed we had a great dining experience, and the next time we get the craving for a good taco, Culichi kitchen will be our first go-to.