Squid Ink Review
By: Amanda Mason
2 E Jefferson St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Squid Ink is a swanky modern Japanese restaurant in downtown Phoenix at the intersection of Jefferson St. and Central Ave. The restaurant is inviting when you first walk up to it, with additional outdoor seating and cool water misters spritzing you as you walk to the front door. The color scheme is a mixture of calming grey blue-hue decor. Geometric shapes interchange between circles and squares, with the light fixtures and tables. The seats are all grey and they are extremely comfortable, but worn down with torn corners, you can tell they have been busy since they opened. Modern flashes of colorful art showing dragons, dance along selected walls, while intertwined with bright red streaks of popping fire.
Its 2:09 p.m. on a Saturday, this is my second time at the restaurant and I walk inside and wasn’t sure if they were open. I looked around with a questionable look on my face and a very cheery sushi chef with a white coat said, “Someone will be with you shortly.” Last time I was here in the evening and it was packed, I picked an odd time today on Saturday but I personally enjoy eating when it’s quiet. The vibe is relaxing with 90’s Hip-hop Ne-Yo vibe gives me the excuse to lean into my chair and chill with my menu. It was a nice mix of music that was popular when I was in high school and I hear, the few patrons in the restaurant, every now and then whisper-sing to the chorus.
There were rolls upon rolls, named Tuna Overkill, Ultimate Philly, Flying Phoenix, Cougar and even Dirty Rockstar. My waiter, named Christian, surprised me when I looked up from the menu and he was just standing there with a jolly bright grin that could competed with the Arizona sun. He suggested the Cougar (king crab, spicy crab, steamed shrimp, avocado, sprouts, cucumber wrap and sweet chili sauce) roll and as he called it “the underdog roll.” I gave it a whirl. The sushi came out and the smell of sweet chili radiated from the evenly and organized duplicate rolls. They look so inviting and fresh with their pop of fresh bright colors. This roll is wrapped in seaweed-type wrap that helped keep the roll together and when I took a bite, I noticed the flavors were married. Light fluffy, sweet tangy taste with a texture like tapioca. The sweet chili tingled my tongue and I should have saved this sushi for dessert.
I washed the Cougar roll down with my Green Tea that tasted like candy after I added a packet of Sweet’n Low. I wanted to order a simple dish, the pork dumplings. Dumplings are a staple, it’s something my Mom orders every single time we are at a Japanese restaurant. The dumplings were disappointing. They were cooked well, with a doughy crunch but they tasted like hot dogs. As I continued to eat one after another, hoping that would get better, they tasted the same.
Christopher, the waiter, offered me more green tea. When he returned with the fresh tea, I asked to try another sushi roll and Christian suggested, The Ultimate Philly, stuffed with spicy crab, shrimp tempura, smoked salmon, cream cheese, avocado, eel sauce and spicy aioli. The monster was cut into six sections and looked taller than Mt. Fuji. I’ve never seen such a massive sushi roll. It looked gross to me, I could have done without shrimp tails decorating the plate. I broke out a new set up chop-sticks, poured my soy sauce and had at it. The bites were creamy and the sushi roll practically melted in my mouth. With a crunchy kick and the consistent rice-tapioca texture with sweet and spicy kisses on my tongue. The temperatures of warm shrimp and cold avocado was tasty. I swayed with pleasure to the cool hip-hop beats while I chewed.
After I received my to-go glass of green ice tea, and paid, Christian gave me a hug. I’m sure he doesn’t hug everyone, I am also a hugger so it makes sense, but the experience and the amazing rolls outweighed the $45 price tag.
Just don't order the dumplings.