Adorned with noodle-loving black and white portraits, the interior of Republic is unquestionably chic and minimalistic. Don’t let the communal tables deter you. Blending the flirty atmosphere of an exclusive University cafeteria with the ambiance of a clean, cosmopolitan bar, the Union Square
noodle joint reverberates with good vibes and won’t leave you awkwardly searching for a place to sit.
The menu takes the traditional flavors of Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, China and Japan but morphs them into a version designed for the American palate. Soup dumplings (China) arrive in a traditional circle of six, but the chefs at Republic serve them perched over a modest pool of black vinegar
and soy sauce with a sprinkling of scallions.
Or you could start with a cold appetizer from Japan – like the salmon sashimi salad. You won’t find your usual fix of wasabi here. This salad is marinated in a cold mustard-lime sauce.
Republic is a noodle house, so a meal there wouldn’t be complete without a large bowl of their signature noodles. A broth version is great for a cold day. Their spicy beef is a stylized take on pho (Vietnam), but the difference is in the details — a heavier, but by no means overwhelming, emphasis on lemongrass. For a dry noodle alternative, the curried duck is perfect. Egg noodles marinated in a thick curry sauce, but contrasted with the crunch and lightness of carrots, cucumbers and beansprouts
Finally cleanse your palate with their addicting non-alcoholic coolers. Two to try: an iced basil lemonade with fresh lemons, or a coconut lime cooler that comes off as lemonade but ends in a refreshing aftertaste of creamy coconut. And finish off (god help you if you still have room) with a cassava cake (corn muffin meets glutinous rice cake meets maple syrup sweetness) or a melt-in-your-mouth black sesame ice cream with two sprigs of fresh basil on the side.
Republic is by no means pretentious, but each dish that comes your way is embedded with culinary subtleties and flavors from the Far East that will have you wishing you could spend all afternoon eating.37 Union Sq W
(between S Park Ave & 17th St)
New York, NY 10003