Battle of the Dishes

Umami v. Republic Ramen: Chow Bella's Ultimate Battle of the Ramen

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See also: Hana Japanese Eatery v. Clever Koi: Introducing Chow Bella's Ultimate Battle of the Ramen

In this corner: Republic Ramen & Noodles

The Setup: For years Republic Ramen, located just south of ASU's Tempe campus has been the student's go-to spot for ramen with flavoring that doesn't come out of a packet. It's a trendy sort of scene with nice-looking (but pretty uncomfortable) wooden booths and red light fixtures that give everything an eerie glow by night. In addition to ramen they also offer boba drinks, beer, and sake. Because, college kids, duh.

At Republic you get your choice of toppings on your ramen -- either "original," which includes spinach, sprouts, scallions, and carrots; or "traditional," which includes memma (bamboo shoots), nori (seaweed), naruto (fish cake), and scallions. Both also include your choice of meat.

The Good: Republic offers nine different types of broth, which means that there's something to appeal to everyone. We tried the Shio, sea salt, and Tokyo, a spicy Tonkatsu borth, on this recent visit. The shio was lightly salty and perfectly enjoyable, but completely out-shined by the flavorful Tokyo broth. The pork-based dashi broth offered nice body and richness, in addition to just enough heat to get your nose running by the end of the meal. Dashi broth is traditionally made with dried smoked bonito flakes and sea kelp, so by combining dashi with pork broths you get a unique hybrid that's relatively light but still gives a a bit of that ideal meaty-ness.

The Bad: Republic's noodles were overcooked, lacking the firm texture of authentic and properly cooked noodles. We also didn't particularly love their pork, which was dry and a little too tough for our taste -- despite being soaked in ramen broth.

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria