Little Village’s evolving flavors

Chew On This Digest

November 30, 2014

Story By: Phoebe Neel | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

Little Village Noodle House, the side street Chinese restaurant, has a long and celebrated history of being a secret Chinatown gem. Underrated it is not — its bedecked walls boast various awards and recognition.

This holiday season, Little Village continues its quest to update Chinese food to local palates with a special winter set menu and a new dessert list to come.

David Chang, the Little Village mastermind, has built a varied menu with rotating specials that blend hometown Chinese cuisine with American influences. Raised in Hong Kong until the age of 10, he’s “still attached to the culture.

“When I couldn’t find dishes here that I really liked, I had to do it myself.”

Childhood favorites of his live on at Little Village, including shrimp wontons and milk tea prepared to traditional Hong Kong tastes.

“We had a cardiologist who would come in every night,” just for this perfect mixture of strong black tea with condensed and evaporated milk.

While Little Village’s strong Chinese background is evident on the menu, which includes a whole section of Hong Kong favorites, Chang waxes philosophic about the nature of food as constantly changing. “There is no origin, no true authentic nature to food,” he says. “It’s constantly being modified, and everyone puts their own personal touch on it. Cooking is very local, and I work to please local customers.”

At Little Village, his personal touch means making everything from scratch and refusing to use MSG. Current specials include Seared Scallops with Shiitake and Spinach ($19.95) and Snow Pea Beef Stir Fry ($12.95).

Both longtime customers and newcomers are sure to enjoy the upcoming winter menu debuting Dec. 22, which offers multiple dishes for parties of four or six.

Local ingredients such as Kauai prawns and mahi mahi are part of Chang’s commitment to using fresh ingredients.

Also on the horizon, hints Chang, is a complete update of the dessert menu. “Chinese restaurants don’t typically focus on desserts,” he adds, which is why Chang is experimenting with fusion flavors including Nutella tapioca.

While Little Village could easily rest on its laurels, constant innovation is what keeps this restaurant a perennial favorite.

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.

Honolulu, HI 96817

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