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Cover Story

Chinese Fare With Unique Flair

By Ali Resich Photos By BODIE COLLINS
May 22, 2016

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Barbecue Pork Rib ($17.95; daily specials menu), King Oyster Mushroom over Baby Spinach ($14.95; daily specials menu), Orange Chicken ($10.50), Garlic Butter Steamed Kauai Prawns ($17.95)

Barbecue Pork Rib ($17.95; daily specials menu), King Oyster Mushroom over Baby Spinach ($14.95; daily specials menu), Orange Chicken ($10.50), Garlic Butter Steamed Kauai Prawns ($17.95)

Little Village Noodle House may be the place to go to satisfy your Chinese cravings, but it’s not your average Chinese restaurant.

Many locals agree there’s something special about the Northern Chinese-inspired fare served up at the Chinatown eatery, even if they can’t quite put their finger on it. Dining Out recently sat down with general manager and partner David Chang, who oversees the eatery with owner and partner Kenneth Chan, to pick out some of those intricate details that put the eatery in a class of its own.

“You have to take it to the next level,” says Chang of Little Village’s sought-after cuisine. “We cannot offer what everyone else offers.”

How does the restaurant do this? For starters, Little Village’s menu is rooted in regional Chinese flavors that are bold and full of spice, while traditional wok-and fire-based cooking techniques are ablaze in the kitchen. These authentic elements are carefully interwoven with hints of fusion — be it a sauce that has a more American-style consistency or the use of a vegetable that’s familiar to local taste buds. As Chang puts it, these touches help American palates better understand the Chinese dishes, and this understated approach to fusion cuisine has been perfected and adored since the eatery opened 15 years ago.

Volcano Pork Chop ($13.75)

Volcano Pork Chop ($13.75)

In King Oyster Mushroom over Baby Spinach ($14.95; from daily specials menu), popular Western vegetables are cooked up in a Chinese-style slathering of brown sauce with garlic and oyster sauce, while Garlic Butter Steamed Kauai Prawn ($17.95) shows a more pronounced local influence with the use of fresh prawn and island-style flavorings.

Patrons will find their favorites, from Seafood Fried Noodle made with the crunchiest of thin noodles to wonderfully crisp Orange Chicken ($10.50), the latter of which bursts with citrus flavor from real orange juice.

Over the years, Little Village has placed a greater emphasis on offering health-conscious cuisine and refrains from using MSG. “If there’s a way to make a healthier dish, we’ll select that way for the customer — always,” says Chang, adding that menu items can be made vegetarian-friendly as well.

Barbecue Pork Rib ($17.95)

Barbecue Pork Rib ($17.95)

Diners enjoy Little Village’s original Chinese fare in a relaxing setting that is reminiscent of the rural countryside in China, the ideal ambiance for family-style dining.

Over the years, the restaurant has mastered the art of providing a great dining experience that engages all the senses, from the decor to a dish’s color, aroma and flavor. “When you eat, you always eat with your eyes first, and then the next sensor you have is the smell, and then you have to taste it. Those are the three most important things,” Chang explains.

Little Village Noodle House

1113 Smith St., Chinatown
545-3008
Sunday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-midnight (last call 11:30)