Those of us well versed in Mexican food know that a well-made corn tortilla is the crucial base for any taco worth its salsa. Unlike those dry and flavourless packaged corn tortillas available at supermarkets around town, Cali-Mex's homemade tortillas are authentically soft and chewy, with a distinct 'corny' bite. They are used to make the local taqueria's tacos, either soft or crispy.
Foodie spoke to Jordan Moss, Cali-Mex's Marketing & Business Development Manager, to find out more about these Mexican rounds of dough and the machine that makes them right here in HK:
What makes a great corn tortilla?
In essence, a great tortilla comes down to the following factors: quality of the flour, consistency of size/thickness and freshness. Cali-Mex addresses each factor. We bring 100% Mexican Maseca (or masa harina, very finely ground corn flour) direct from the mills. Our tortilla machine regulates the size and consistency of the product, and our dedicated tortilla-making team bake tortillas throughout the night, sending out the product fresh to our shops each morning.
What makes Cali-Mex's tortilla-making machine so necessary in the production of a great tortilla?
Cali-Mex's central food philosophy is serving only the freshest and highest-quality products to our customers. This ranges from our homemade salsas to our freshly baked tortillas. When Cali-Mex first started in Hong Kong, we looked in the local market for high-quality fresh tortillas. Unfortunately such tortillas do not exist; only frozen products made in China are available. As a result, Cali-Mex sourced and shipped in a state-of-the-art flour tortilla machine from Texas. Homemade flour tortillas have been used from Day 1 at all Cali-Mex restaurants. Although we were actively seeking a corn tortilla machine as well, it took some time to find a suitable one to give our customers the taste of an authentic corn taco. After a year of searching and many machines being assessed, the perfect corn tortilla machine was found from a century's old manufacturer in Mexico. There are no other machines like it in Hong Kong and only a handful of machines like it in the whole of Asia.
How did the machine come to Hong Kong? Was it a rocky road to get here?
After four months of manufacturing the brand-new machine, it was dropped by the courier in transit. The damage was beyond repair, meaning a new machine had to be commissioned! Months later, the new machine was sent to Hong Kong, but when it arrived, it was too large and heavy for our building's service elevator, weighing two tonnes and measuring three metres long. In the end, we had to hire a crane and cut open the side of the building in order to lift the machine into our kitchen.
Where does the machine reside now? And how are the tortillas transported to all Cali-Mex locations?
The machine now resides in our central kitchen in Aberdeen. Warm tortillas are vacuum packed and sent to our stores every morning by Cali-Mex's delivery trucks.
How would you describe the taste of a fresh, warm, out-of-the-machine tortilla?
Tasting a tortilla fresh off the machine is unreal. While ours is a high-volume machine – capable of baking 6,000 pieces an hour! – it produces authentic tortillas at the same time. This machine really brings the taste of Mexico to Hong Kong. These tortillas are a must try, served as tacos with any of our signature fillings.
Various locations around Hong Kong