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

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Evie Carpenter
Last week we kicked off our Ultimate Battle of the Dishes ramen bracket that pits some of the Valley's restaurants against each other in a tournament-style match up to find the city's best ramen spots. In our first throw down we put Phoenix's Hana Japanese Eatery against the Clever Koi and in the end it came down to a preference for simplicity over Clever Koi's modern take. You can recap the play-by-play for yourself here.

This week we're taking the action to Tempe to see which ASU-adjacent ramen shop will move on to the second round of our Ultimate Battle of the Ramen.

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

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Lauren Saria
Republic Ramen's Tokyo 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.

Location Info

Republic Ramen & Noodles

1301 E. University Drive, Tempe, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Umami

21 E. 6th St., Tempe, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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8 comments
iumeda
iumeda

You don't like fresh vegetables in your ramen? Go eat some top ramen then...

IMBobII
IMBobII

Tonkotsu broth, not tonkatsu.

jliven23
jliven23

I just spit out my coffee and I wasn't drinking any.


I think this effectively ends the ramen challenge. Surprised Panda Express isn't allowed as a late entry for their miso.

David Bickford
David Bickford

Chow Bella is always quick to complain about parking but fails to mention that Umami is just a few blocks from a light rail station and has abundant bike racks right outside its doors.

desertrat26
desertrat26

This is a little strange to me.... To choose a winner of a FOOD competition based on parking and price is a little silly.  While both restaurants serve up delicious and filling ramen, Umami clearly is a better choice if you are going for taste, quality and atmosphere.  They allow you to build your own bowl with different proteins, veggies and spices.  They have eggs, pork, chicken, tofu, corn, garlic, kimchi, etc. Granted, I will agree their prices could be a little lower, especially being in the middle of broke college kids, but I wouldn't say they are expensive.

Joshua Hebert
Joshua Hebert

This is the equivalent of Hofstra beating michigan state

SkilletDoux
SkilletDoux

Wow.


It has, admittedly, been a couple of years since I gave up on Republic, but at the time they were slinging some of the most insipid, one-dimensional ramen I've had.


Umami took a couple of months to get their sea legs, but while this town still has a ways to go in the ramen department, they've been putting out some very respectable stuff lately.


Surprised is putting it mildly.

forkvsfood
forkvsfood

This is a travesty. Umami DESTROYS Republic Ramen 10/10 times. The broth is what makes a Ramen, and Umami's broth is rich and deep, with layers of flavor. The noodles I've tried on every visit lately have been perfectly cooked with slightly firm texture. 

I'm not sure I can take the rest of this throw-down seriously.

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