A Village Fit for Food Fanatics
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It’s midday and the streets of Chinatown — usually flooded with all walks of life — are practically empty. This blanket of solitude is uncanny and surreal. Yet, it all makes sense, for just behind the glass doors of Little Village Noodle House on Smith Street is a spacious dining area flooded with patrons eager to dive into an award-winning spread of Northern-style Chinese cuisine. Despite the drove of people and orders to keep track of, Little Village’s longtime servers effortlessly work their way through a maze of tables while balancing steaming hot dishes that satisfy every appetite.
“Our menu is so vast. Everyone of all ages will be able to find their favorites. It’s in our best interest to present an American and local take on Chinese cuisine cooked with skill and precision,” says general manager Gary Chang, who boasts close to 25 years in the restaurant industry.
Little Village Noodle House was founded more than a decade ago by Kenneth and Jennifer Chan. From day one, this husband-and-wife team had faith that their restaurant would prosper despite tough economic times. Chan also made the promising decision to bring Chang on board to aid in the eatery’s success.
“Kenneth and I have trained our chefs from day one. It’s unique that all of our chefs started here without any former experience. I think it’s better that way because they come to us without any past influence or old habits,” explains Chang, noting that Kenneth still is in charge of preparing all the sauces from scratch.
For Chang, it all boils down to quality and consistency, and having created many menu items, Chang works closely with his kitchen staff to ensure his vision is properly executed, from cooking technique to presentation.
Little Village runs on big flavors, and restaurant best-sellers include Orange Chicken ($9.95) and Honey Walnut Shrimp ($18.50). Smothered in sweet-and-sour sauce comprised of real orange juice, each tender piece of Orange Chicken is deep-fried to perfection. As for the juicy morsels of Honey Walnut Shrimp, they are tossed in garlic and green onion cream sauce adorned with sweet bits of candied walnuts.
“We’ve raised the bar when it comes to traditional Chinese cuisine,” says Chang. “I stand firmly behind the belief that you have to carve your own niche. You have to pay attention to your customers’ wants and needs, and do your best to fulfill them.
“Many customers prefer vegetables and seafood more than meat — that seems to be more popular,” he adds.
Always one step ahead of the game, Little Village capitalizes on this growing trend with Scallops with Shiitake Mushrooms over Spinach ($18.95) and Portobello Mushroom with Snow Peas ($12.95).
The latter is a recent addition to the establishment’s list of more than 100 items. Snow peas are stir-fried with a kick of garlic and ginger, and topped with strips of portobello mushrooms. “We usually unveil a new dish about every quarter, so Portobello Mushroom with Snow Peas currently is on our specials board, and depending on customer response, we may put it on the regular menu,” states Chang.
Yet, those with intrinsic carnivorous instincts are more than pleased with Sizzling Ribeye ($21.95), sliced and seasoned with bits of garlic, salt and a generous splash of homemade teriyaki sauce that sizzles as its presented on a cast-iron platter.
And with Mother’s Day just a week away, Little Village offers a set menu available for dinner May 8 and lunch and dinner May 9-11. Priced at $260 for 10 people and $112 for four, treat Mom to a spread of Shrimp Pineapple Salad, Seafood Tofu Soup, Char-Siu Mu Shu Roll, Portobello Mushroom Mahi Stir Fried, Honey Walnut Shrimp, Crispy Skin Roasted Duck, Orange Chicken, Garlic Fried Rice and Strawberry Chocolate Tapioca Dessert.
“We invite everyone to Little Village,” says Chang. “We have a lot of loyal customers who keep coming back year after year, and I want to say ‘thank you.’ For those who haven’t been here, I encourage them to try our clean, robust flavors.”
Little Village Noodle House
1113 Smith St., Honolulu
Sunday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-midnight
Note: Ample parking available at rear of restaurant