When Republic first opened, it was one of very few places to get an Asian-style noodle bowl with a stylish edge. Many have followed in its footsteps—and some are better—but for window shoppers, greenmarketers, and anyone else in the Union Square area, this is a fun stop for a meal. The look is a cross between a downtown art gallery and a Japanese school cafeteria, and the young waitstaff dressed in black T-shirts and jeans hold remote-control ordering devices to accelerate
the already speedy service. Sit at the long, bluestone bar or at the picnic-style tables and order appetizers such as smoky grilled eggplant and luscious fried wontons. Spicy coconut chicken soup and Vietnamese-style barbecued pork are menu standouts.