If you know me well enough, you’ll probably already know that most favorite kind of restaurant is the kind that offers Asian cuisine and great cocktails. A few days ago I was craving Asian food like no other visiting my friends in Pasadena and we planned to go eat, drink and then go salsa dancing at The Granada. Conveniently enough, Next Republic Kitchen just happened to be right around the corner from The Granada, so why not begin the night with some Asian fusion and drinks?
A few of my friends and I were invited to Next Republic Kitchen, a new restaurant located in Downtown Alhambra with a dim-lit, gastropub vibe. Featuring fairly-priced Asian fusion tapas dishes like pork belly buns to American appetizers like chili fries, they offer something for everyone, which makes family-style eating budget-friendly and full of variety. Here were my favorite dishes and drinks of the night.
Next Republic Kitchen’s cocktail menu features less than 10 different types of cocktails, but make no mistake: each one has a delicious twist. We ordered a several drinks that were all delicious, well-balanced and extremely unique.
Not only does NRK serve cocktails but also offers an extensive wine list, beer, sake and soju as well.
Beauty and the East ($9)
Lychee, sabe gold rum, butterfly pea, and mint
This beautiful drink is sweet, slightly minty, and finishes off with sweet lychee for a hint of Asian flavor. Definitely an Instagram-worthy drink that tastes as good as it looks!
Mango, sabe blanco tequila, chamoy, chili
If you love Mexican fruit cups topped off with chamoy, then order nothing else other than the Monquila. This drink is fruity with a burst of mango and paired off with tequila for a refreshing choice of liquor. I loved the novelty of the chamoy and chili-coated straw.
Lychee White Sangria ($9)
This drink is perfect for someone who doesn’t like the taste of alcohol but loves sweet drinks. The sweet lychee definitely covers up any evidence of wine. Although not as aesthetic as drinks like Beauty and the East, this was my favorite drink out of them all.
Tapas and Main Dishes
The beauty of Next Republic Kitchen is the tapas menu: you can order appetizers anywhere between $4 – $8 and split everything family style. Although there are main dishes that come with soup or salad and a side, you can also share main dishes with the rest of your party as well – we did!
Sizzling Teppan: Rib Eye ($23.50)
At most tapas restaurants I never expect the meat-based main dishes to be anything out of the ordinary, but this medium rare rib eye was perfect. Although not large, the meat was juicy, flavorful and perfect to slice up and share. Topped off with the black pepper sauce and grilled bed of onions, this was definitely satisfying.
Beef Garlic Fries (+$4.00)
I was definitely not expecting to enjoy this dish as much as I did. It sounds simple enough: seasoned fries, sliced beef, grilled onions, a fried egg and some sauce, but this combination of tastes definitely brings a new twist to french fries.
Crispy Rice Tuna ($6.50)
Ever had crispy rice? These chunks of fried crispy rice topped with spicy tuna, cucumbers and caviar are great for when you’re craving some sushi. I’m obsessed with spicy tuna, so this was already a winner by default for me, but I loved the caviar on top – definitely gave it that umami!
Pork Belly Buns ($7.50)
Another one of my favorite Asian cuisine is dim sum, and pork belly buns definitely beat my craving for it! I’m always afraid to get dry, oversteamed buns and tough pork, but everything about the was perfect. Love that the pork belly was tender, fatty and carried a lot of flavor.
Pizza Tater Tots ($6.95)
I have to admit – tater tots aren’t something most people would normally order for dinner, let alone at an Asian restaurant, but I love all things tater tots and hash browns so I quietly snuck this into the order while my friends didn’t notice. They wound up loving it too! It’s definitely not a picturesque dish, but hey – fried potatoes, cheese, tomato sauce and pepperoni… who doesn’t love that?
Poke Nachos ($8)
This was one of my personal favorites out of all the tapas dishes we ordered. Another sushi-based dish, these poke nachos definitely hit the spot when you want something crispy, grab-friendly and fish-based. The chips are no ordinary chips – they’re fried wonton wrappers! Definitely must try this if you love tuna and things like cream cheese wontons.
Overall: If you want to get away from the busy LA traffic and vibes, head to downtown Alhambra and check out Next Republic Kitchen for some delicious Asian fusion food and drinks, walk around downtown and maybe even try salsa dancing for the rest of the evening.
Next Republic Kitchen is located at:
119 West Main Street
Alhambra, CA 91801