The recipe for Republic Ramen & Noodles' slow-simmered broth may be a secret, but anyone can figure out that it tastes good. “Republic Ramen in Tempe is the real deal,” said a Phoenix New Times piece that named it the city’s best ramen restaurant in 2011. Chefs bedeck each bowl with locally sourced veggies—sprouts, spinach, scallions, carrots—as well as savory proteins, such as pork, tofu, spam, chicken, or beef. It wouldn’t be right to serve an Asian comfort-food staple without the associated imported beverages. The menu includes Japanese beers, such as Asahi and Orion, and a four-sample sake flight that comes with a side of edamame. The staff also blends boba drinks that, like Mother Nature’s tears in January, come in slush and snow form. Fruity flavors, including honeydew, coconut, peach, and passionfruit, end meals on sweet note.
At Nagasaki Grill, guests can choose one of three kinds of broth for their ramen: miso, tonkotsu, or curry. The last of these earned praise from the New Times, which called it “fragrant and…more interesting because it’s a rarity in these parts.” The low-key dining room almost feels like a cafeteria with its simple booths and meals served on trays.
It's not unusual to find Tammy, owner of Pearl Sushi Lounge & Bomber Bar, standing behind the bar at one of her two restaurant locations, chatting with customers while they sip her signature cocktails and sake bombs. Her crew of bartenders takes their tasks seriously, mixing up martinis infused with soju, sake, fresh fruit juices, and muddled blackberries, or pouring red and white wines straight from the special tap designed to prevent oxidation. Inside the kitchens, the chefs work with equal dedication, whether crafting classic california sushi rolls or the more inventive White Snake roll stuffed with sweet-potato tempura, tamago, asparagus, and cream cheese, and topped with escolar and a spicy peach sauce. Small plates sport crispy calamari sautéed with fresh ginger and garlic while Big Plate meals feature wok-charred beef and teriyaki salmon flanked with miso soup, salad, and steamed edamame.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, chef Yohan Yun first began working in sushi restaurants when he was 16. However, he credits his father with teaching him many of the skills that he still uses at Big Eye Sushi Bar to craft miso, soy sauce, and nato, a type of fermented soybean. The menu spotlights never-frozen fish; even the maki use rice sparingly. The rolls instead accessorize the tightly bundled fish and vegetables with such adventurous ingredients as chipotle cream sauce and thin slices of lemon. Orders of sashimi arrive with fragrant ginger sauce or jalapeños, keeping diners from tossing chopsticks to rakish musketeers having sword duels.
Armed with 60 items, the menu at Yume Sushi Grill portends a wide selection for sushi disciples. Kick back in the cushy dining room chairs and cast out nets for the deep-fried calamari ($6). Lunching office warriors can treat recently unmuzzled bosses to a quintet of sashimi ($10) or a savory lunch special such as the cali roll and five pieces of sushi, varieties include red-snapper tai, tuna maguro, and salmon sake ($8.95). Like ducks flying south to play frisbee golf, the flavorful chicken bulgogi ($10) can naturally find its way to any table. Vegetarians, meanwhile, can join in the palate parade by ushering in a band of stewed vegetables and thick noodles doused in yellow curry sauce ($12).
Sushi Roku’s menu is loaded with delicious cuisine and numerous sushi options. Light your appetite’s fuse with a selection of hot and cold appetizers, such as edamame hummus with wonton chips ($8) or the sauteed Chinese green bean dish known as ingen itame ($7). After miso soup with tofu ($4), taste-test the restaurant’s voluminous collection of sushi ($4¬–$10 for two pieces) and sashimi ($8–$20 for four pieces) options, which include freshwater eel, squid, smelt egg, yellowtail, and luck dragon. Hunger assassins artfully disguise themselves as plates of grilled filet mignon served with mashed potatoes and homemade teriyaki sauce ($31), or panko-crusted salmon accompanied by wasabi cream and tonkatsu sauce ($21).