DINE WRITE By Mai Pham Photography by Sarah Miller Fried Chicken Wings Seated at the far left end of the bar at the lively Republic Diner + Sojubang in the Houston Heights, I could feel the heat coming off of the burners and the wok directly in front of me. It was a typical hot, muggy summer day in Houston, and though it was a might bit uncomfortable, I didn’t want to move. Described as the “best seat in the house” by general manager Taylor Cameron, when you sit at that spot, not only do you get to enjoy a kitchen show with woks that literally light up with fire, but you also get to see all the food land on the pass before it gets delivered to the tables. “Are we going to have those fries?” my friend Dee asked excitedly as we saw a humongous plate of kimchi fries pass by us. “No, we need to save room for all the other things I ordered,” I responded, even as I felt a twinge of FOMO. 18 L O C A L | september 16 It’s a feeling I felt again as I saw a quartet of bulgogi rice bowls topped with fried eggs get plated, and as I watched the fried empanada-like Mandu dumplings get picked up. Crazy, considering I couldn’t finish all the delicious food in front of me, but that’s the kind of thing that happens at Republic Diner: Your eyes will definitely be bigger than your stomach. We each got a shot of infused soju to start. Mine was a sweeter infusion made with pineapple; hers was spicy, made with habanero peppers. We clinked our shot glasses and felt the burn of alcohol down our throats, making us hungry for what was to come.