Squid ink, typically used in Japanese, Spanish, and Italian cooking, can make any ordinary dish look so much cooler. But aside from turning boring food into Instagrammable works of art, a few drops of squid ink can also completely change how something tastes, infusing whatever it touches with a rich umami flavor!
If you’re into anything and everything that’s been squid inked (and you don’t mind walking around with black teeth after eating), here are nine places in the metro you should definitely hit up. There’s one that cooks up squid ink lasagna, one that serves squid ink laksa, and another that’ll feed you squid ink kropek!
1. Grind Bistro’s Nutty Black Chicken
Grind Bistro is a place where carnivores can indulge in one of life’s greatest pleasures–USDA burgers! But there’s more to this restaurant than just their signature freshly-ground beef patties. They took the idea of a burger joint and made into something bigger by adding things like steaks, pasta, seafood, and other entrees onto the menu!
One of the non-burger dishes that’s worth trying out at Grind is the Nutty Black Chicken, chicken breast covered in squid ink tempura breading and flavored with romesco sauce and sweet chili sauce. Don’t let its dark and mysterious appearance scare you because it’s a delicious creation, described by Moritz S. in her looloo review as crunchy, juicy, and flavorful!
Grind Bistro can be found at these locations.
2. Le Petit Souffle’s Squid Ink Rice
There are a couple of reasons why people keep coming back to Le Petit Souffle–the Instagrammable decor, the lovely ambiance, and of course the food. More specifically the Squid Ink Rice, served with fresh seafood, shimeji mushrooms, and soft-scrambled egg! You’ll easily spot their one-of-a-kind version of black paella on almost every table in the restaurant.
Aside from being delicious, this squid ink dish is plated beautifully too, as Ruth S. described in her looloo review: “The presentation was really really really really pretty. The mushroom and fresh seafood looked so “unreal”, like someone drew it so perfectly and made it real so they can add it on top of this rice dish. And the scrambled egg, ahhhh!!! It’s so bright!”
Le Petit Souffle can be found at these locations.
3. Pamana’s Crispy Pusit in Squid Ink
What do you do when you inherit 100 years-worth of heirloom recipes? You open up a restaurant and share the food with the world! Pamana’s menu is a collection of timeless dishes that have been tried and tested by several generations, all of which you can enjoy in a classy, fine dining setting. It’s definitely the kind of place your lola would appreciate!
If you’re not sure what to order from the vast menu, you won’t regret getting the Crispy Pusit in Squid Ink, a fun, crunchier take on the classic adobong pusit. In her looloo review, Piap E. raved about it, saying: “The squid is cooked perfectly. The meat was tender and not tough to eat. I also enjoyed the crispness of the calamares giving another dimension and texture to the dish.”
Pamana can be found at these locations.
4. Rico Rico’s Paella Negra
Going overboard on carbs is something most of us try to avoid. But at Rico Rico (brought to us by the same same group behind La Lola and Rambla), all you have to do is inhale the aroma of their paellas to have all of your self-control go flying out of the window. Rico Rico makes their mouthwatering rice dishes using authentic methods and only the freshest ingredients!
There are a number of paella variations to choose from (you can even DIY your order) but you can’t go wrong with the classic Negra. When you mix the fluttering bonito flakes together with the squid ink rice, you get a delightful combination of salty and rich flavors in the mouth. If you want more toppings, order up the Negra 2.0 which has egg, chicken, peas, and red bell pepper.
Rico Rico can be found on the 4/F Food on Four, SM Aura Premier, McKinley Parkway cor. 26th St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila.
5. Sunnies Cafe’s Baked Squid Ink Lasagna
The Sunnies Cafe has been serving looks ever since it opened last year, drawing in millennials who want pretty things to take pictures of for their feeds. But aside from the effort they put into their vintage-inspired, ultra-Instagrammable interior, Sunnies Cafe also made sure their menu caters to everyone, whether you’re coming in for brunch and coffee or dinner and drinks!
An intriguing dish they have in their lineup is the Baked Squid Ink Lasagna, a must-try if you’re tired of the normal version you can find everywhere. Not only is theirs infused with squid ink, but it’s also served with crispy calamares, creamy cheese sauce, homemade tomato jam, and basil oil. In her looloo review, Angela Marie C. called this dish amazing!
Sunnies Cafe can be found at these locations.
6. Tittos Latin BBQ & Brew’s Dos Tipos Calamares
If you’re worried about not being able to find Tittos Latin BBQ & Brew among the many restaurants in Kapitolyo, don’t be because it’s hard to miss their big, colorful signage. Once you’re in, you’ll realize that the fun continues on to the inside where you’ll find bright murals and feel-good quotes painted on the walls.
But it’s not just their designs that are festive–their South American dishes have playful twists too! One of their quirky creations you need to try is the Dos Tipos Calamares, crispy calamares encased in squid ink batter that’s topped off with smaller pieces of sauteed calamares. On the side, you get a dash of garlic-infused mayo for some extra flavor.
Tittos Latin BBQ & Brew can be found at 16 East Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig, Metro Manila.
7. Toast Asian Kitchen & Tasting Room’s Blaksa
If you’ve been dreaming of having your own man cave, you’re going to want it to look something like Toast Asian Kitchen & Tasting Room. It’s got dim lights for added ambiance, wooden finishings for a homey touch, big couches that are comfy to sink into, and relaxing music that helps take the edge off.
But because Toast looks the way it does, you’d be surprised that they actually serve Asian food instead of steaks and burgers! One of their most interesting dishes is the Blaksa, their unique take on the Singaporean laksa. To add more depth and richness to the classic dish, they add drops of squid ink to it which enhance the flavor of the coconut broth!
Toast Asian Kitchen & Tasting Room can be found on the G/F of Ayala Malls The 30th, Meralco Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig, Metro Manila.
8. Wildflour Café + Bakery’s Squid Ink Pasta
Wildflour may not be the newest cafe in the metro, having already been around for a good three years. But that doesn’t keep people from coming back to their doorstep to order their personal favorites from the menu. A popular item that everyone can’t seem to get enough of is the Squid Ink Pasta, an irresistible option if you’re craving for comforting carbs and rich flavors!
To complement the ink-covered noodles, they add garlic-parsley butter and chili to it and top it all off with prawns, clams, squid, and pistachios. This is how Foodie F. described the dish in his looloo review: “It was a masterful play in colors and textures. The faint metallic taste of the ink gives an interesting aspect to the pasta. The butter gives the marinara sauce a silky feel.”
Wildflour Café + Bakery can be found at these locations.
9. Your Local’s Semi Fried Eggplant
Everyone probably knows by now that Conde Nast Traveler has named Your Local as one of the best restaurants on the planet, citing their Pomelo Salad as unforgettable. Other popular picks from their award-winning menu are the Torched Salmon Donburi, Lamb Rendang, and Chorizo Sandwich. But there’s one item from the appetizer section that you might be overlooking!
Do yourself and all your tablemates a favor and start your meal off with the Semi Fried Eggplant. Not your usual take on the lowly talong, they elevate the eggplant by topping it off with mascarpone cream cheese, ponzu, tempura flakes, and yup, squid ink crumbs! looloo reviewers who have tried it say that it might just be their favorite thing from the lineup.
Your Local can be found on the G/F of Universal LMS Bldg., 106 Esteban St., Legazpi Village, Makati, Metro Manila.