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Squid Ink: Good Atmosphere and Great Eats!

There's something electrifying about being in downtown Phoenix on a Friday night. Maybe it's the fact that there's always something exciting going on like a Diamondbacks game, a big concert, or a fun convention. Tonight there was a concert in town, but that wasn't the reason we were here. It was date night, we had SUSHI on the brain, and Squid Ink was our targeted destination!

There's always a parking garage not too far from your destination downtown, and City Scape's parking garage will allow validations for Squid Ink customers. Free parking close by is always a plus!

We arrived just as the sun was going down on a hot afternoon and Squid Ink was already alive. My eyes were immediately drawn to the beautiful Millennial style decor with a giant mural of a tentacle-haired temptress. People always say that first impressions are everything, and just from the looks of things, I loved this place already.

The warm and upbeat atmosphere was buzzing with urban energy. This was the early crowd, and all of these people were just getting an exciting evening started. We were hungry, so Christian, our server recommended the Miso Black Cod appetizer and brought it to us within minutes. Tender pan-seared cod, sweet miso glaze and a sprinkling of deep fried leeks make this simple and well prepared dish a great start for seafood lovers.

Now it was sushi time. I love restaurants with a sense of humor on the menu. I've always believed that humor and laughter are mandatory in the kitchen, and if a restaurant can do the same, count me in. All of the specialty rolls on the menu sounded delicious, but I couldn't resist the HORY FOOK roll! It was full of shrimp tempura, avocado and spicy tuna. I loved the topping of tempura jalapeños and the spicy aioli. I was expecting HORY FOOK to mean "HORY FOOK this is spicy," but the heat was just right, and HORY FOOK meant this roll was DELICIOUS!

We had explored our humorous side with success, so next we decided to satisfy our inner sic-fi nerd. The Pokemon roll is a patron favorite, and I can see exactly why. This roll was bursting with flavors. It started with spicy crab, avocado and asparagus. The toppings were a colorful mix of salmon, lemon peel, marinated Spanish onion and fresh jalapeño. The lemon peel on this roll was so light and refreshing, it really married together all of the flavors on this dish and made it an absolute adventure. If you're going to do just one sushi roll at Squid Ink...get the POKEMON!

But what if you're not a sushi lover? What if you're on a date with a "meat and potatoes" man? Squid Ink has you covered with their Tiki Pork Belly. THIS is the dish that REALLY sets them apart from other Asian restaurants in the Valley. Pork belly is enjoying a huge burst in popularity among steakhouses and American diners, but this is the first time I've seen it prepared with a sweet Teriyaki sauce, crushed Macadamia nuts, grilled pineapple and micro greens. The savory flavors of the tender pork belly balanced beautifully with the sweet Polynesian flavors. The Macadamias gave it just the right amount of texture, and the micro greens made us feel like we were even eating our vegetables. This is a GREAT sharing dish for a date, that will prepare the pallet for an amazing dessert!

Now gentlemen, if you want to get lucky on date night...I'm telling you...ORDER THIS DESSERT. Squid Ink's Hawaiian bread pudding will make even the most disastrous date end with smiles and snuggles. It's a delicious vanilla bread pudding with orange zest, more of those wonderful Macadamia nuts and big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. But let's talk about the sauce. When this dish came out, my dessert expert mind noticed it was sitting in an EXCESSIVE amount of their praline sauce. "HORY FOOK, that's a lot of sauce," I thought to myself. But, the second it hit my lips, I immediately figured out why. It was soft and sweet, and the flavor of brown butter made me immediately want to bathe in it. My husband and I began fighting for spoonfuls of sauce to drench our every bite of bread pudding. I began to panic slightly when I noticed how much he was eating and for a moment thought that there may not even be enough sauce for both of us! This dessert was definitely the spectacle of our evening.

Squid Ink is a great start to your downtown evening. The service is fast, friendly and accurate, so it's great if you've got somewhere to go. If you're making Squid Ink the highlight of your date night and the weather's right...sit outside, have a drink, people watch...and DEFINITELY order dessert!

Note and Disclaimer: Restaurant reviews are NOT paid. At times restaurants do trade complimentary meals in exchange for photos and/or reviews, but those reviews are NOT expected by the restaurants to be positive. I choose however ONLY to document my positive experiences. If I encounter a meal or a restaurant experience that I don't think is a good one, I simply don't publish the result. This website is all about GOOD FOOD and GREAT PLACES!

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