Even though I lived only minutes away from Republic last year, I never ventured in because I thought it looked too generic and hip to possibly have good food. Man was I wrong! As their website states, Republic boasts a menu that "combines various ingredients, spices, and cooking methods from Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Thailand, and Japan." The menu is divided into small plates,vegetarian dishes, broth noodles,noodles,rice dishes, and Vietnamese sandwiches. In each category there was a visible range in the flavors used and the country where the dish originated, which I really like seeing. Dishes that particularly stood out to me were the Seared Marinated Salmon with lemongrass,curried rice with raisin, pickled carrots, daikon, and cucumber and the Grilled Japanese Eggplant with lime juice, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and scallions. Both of these dishes looked a little too hearty for me to enjoy for lunch, so I decided to go with one of the Vietnamese sandwiches. The sandwich menu has both the classic Vietnamese style sandwich, as well some more unusual versions like the Asian Sausage (served with black bean sauce, pickled papaya and carrots, cucumber, cilantro, fried shallots, and jalapenos) and the Grilled Beef (marinated in peanut sauce with the same toppings as the sausage). During lunch hours, the sandwiches are $10 and come with a choice of soup or salad. I decided to order the Beef Vegetable soup and the Grilled Beef sandwich, which were ready in under 5 minutes.
I started with the Grilled Beef, and from the first bite was hooked. The vegetables were crispy, and the meat was super juicy and smothered in one of the sweetest tangy peanut sauces I have ever had. The bread wasn't the freshest, but the powerful flavors from the sauce made it so I barely noticed. I finished the whole thing before I even really looked at the soup; it was that good! After that, the Beef Vegetable soup was a pretty big disappointment. The beef tasted a little old, the vegetables were clearly canned, and the flavors in the broth were bland and not any different from your normal American vegetable broth. Next time I would try the Green Papaya Salad (papaya, mango, mint, bean sprouts, shallots, carrots, peanuts, and tamarind dressing) instead.
Address:37 Union Square West
Phone: 212 627 7172
Average Price: $11