A Village Run on Big FlavorsCover Story Features
May 26, 2013
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Rachel Breit
Tucked away in the heart of Chinatown is a place of solitude, where the palate becomes one with authentic Chinese cuisine beyond compare. Here, at Little Village Noodle House on Smith Street, patrons are welcome into a rustic, open atmosphere that is an escape from the bustling city life just outside the doors. The sound of chirping birds can be heard within the eatery as friendly servers quickly present plates of both exotic and familiar fare to tables, where diners can’t wait to dive right in.
Founded more than a decade ago by Kenneth and Jennifer Chan, Little Village Noodle House was built with uniqueness in mind.
“We’ve always wanted Little Village to be different from other Chinese restaurants in Hawaii,” says partner David Chang. “There are countless Chinese restaurants in our state, so we wanted ours to stand out. Here, we emphasize Northern-style (Chinese) cuisine, but we also feature some Cantonese-style dishes because that’s what locals are used to.”
According to Chang, Northern-style Chinese cuisine can be categorized as spicy, with little use of gravy, whereas Cantonese cuisine is renowned for its generous portions of gravy and flavors evoking a mild flair.
“Everything on our menu is good, but our signature dishes — as indicated on the menu — are exceptional. We also have a specials board that’s worth looking at,” Chang states. “Family-style dining is our concept, in which everyone can share many dishes and try a bit of everything. Family-style dining brings people together.”
To begin, Chang recommends, Pot Stickers ($4.95 for four pieces, $7.75 for eight pieces), which are hand-wrapped with chicken, pork or tofu fillings and pan-fried or steamed to perfection. A dipping sauce infused with garlic, ginger and apple cider vinegar accompanies this appetizer.
With 113 items on the menu, selecting a handful of entrees may seem utterly impossible, but Orange Chicken ($9.95) and Honey Walnut Shrimp ($16.50) are two must-haves.
“We use a secret sweet and sour sauce, made out of real orange juice, in our Orange Chicken,” explains Chang, noting that the superlative sauce coats each tender morsel of boneless, deep-fried chicken.
As the restaurant’s No. 1 seller, Honey Walnut Shrimp presents a half pound of jumbo shrimp tossed in a garlic and green onion cream sauce, topped with candied walnuts. This seafood lover’s favorite is the epitome of sweet and savory.
Next on the list of seafood specialties is Steamed Basa Fillet ($14.50), a flaky white fish doused in a homemade ginger onion soy sauce and garnished with fresh slivers of ginger and onion.
“The taste of the fillet is very neutral and clean, and the sauce brings a nice flavor to the dish. It’s a healthy option,” Chang says.
What’s in a name? Well, it’s only fitting that Little Village Noodle House dishes up an array of noodle classics, including Seafood Fried Noodle ($9.95). This best-selling specialty features a plate of crispy chow mein with gravy adorned with a medley of shrimp, squid, scallops, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, won bok, baby corn and water chestnuts.
“Customers always compliment on the fresh taste of our dishes, and that’s because we use only the highest quality ingredients, and we use absolutely no MSG or artificial flavors,” Chang states. “It’s all about our special cooking techniques. There’s a unique wok cooking style that brings out the natural flavors.”
Finally, a show-stopper lies in Volcano Pork Chop ($12.75), in which deep-fried pork chop is beautifully battered and topped off with cloves of roasted garlic, wrapped in foil and ignited at your table. Small flames bring about a flair, and it’s ready to be devoured.
Little Village Noodle House caters to eclectic diners, with a broad range of its customer base kamaaina and visitors from the Mainland.
“We firmly believe that it’s our food and clean environment that keeps customers coming back for more. We cater to the customer,” Chang adds, mentioning that a vegetarian substitute is available for all dishes.
“I hope for continued success for the restaurant. For those who have yet to try Little Village, I would like them to dine here, and for our long-time, loyal customers, I want them to rediscover the restaurant and try new items.”
Little Village Noodle House
1113 Smith St., Chinatown
Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.;
Friday-Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
NOTE: AMPLE PARKING AVAILABLE AT REAR OF RESTAURANT