A Little Haven of Huge FlavorCover Story Features
May 18, 2015
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
When Oahu’s diners are in the mood for top-notch Chinese cuisine, they often head to renowned Little Village Noodle House on Smith Street. By the time their tummies are content, though, they leave the restaurant having enjoyed a completely comforting dining experience, filled with inspiring flavors and a welcoming atmosphere that far exceeded their expectations.
Creating an unforgettable mealtime centered on exquisitely executed home-style cooking is exactly what owner and partner Kenneth Chan and general manager and partner David Chang have put decades of experience toward since 2001. While their menu showcases the bold flavors of Northern-style Chinese fare, it also hints at American and local flavors — there are even french fries at this spot! — allowing any and every patron to find something that speaks to their cravings.
“After many years of operating a restaurant, we feel that customer needs always come first,” explains Chang. With Little Village’s ability to offer a little bit of everything, it’s no surprise that Chan sees a broad spectrum of diners — including locals and tourists of all ages — frequenting the family-friendly Chinatown haunt. The menu’s many creative touches can be seen in dishes like Lobster E-mein with Enoki Mushroom ($28.95), which recently became a hit when it debuted on Little Village’s Mother’s Day menu. In addition to fresh lobster and spongy e-mein noodles, this treasure features a classic ginger and onion sauce dressed up with a fusion-filled splash of wine, all together deepening the flavor.
Patrons are encouraged to try Little Village’s unique blend of cuisines this Father’s Day, as the restaurant is still accepting reservations. During the joyous holiday, customers will have the opportunity to try Barbecue Spare Ribs and Deep Fried Live Oysters, both of which will be unveiled for the very first time. And with graduation season upon us, the 130-seat eatery serves as an ideal locale to host a celebratory gathering. Chang and Chan will work with diners to customize a menu that perfectly suits their needs, and for graduation-party reservations of 10 people or more, desserts will be on the house.
When it comes to achieving the MSG-free eatery’s signature vibrant flavors — which arise on every dish, from classics such as Honey Walnut Shrimp and Orange Chicken to more internationally inspired bites like Pecan Spinach Salad ($8.75) and Kalbi-style Sizzling Short Rib ($17.95) — Chang says it all comes down to the kitchen’s precise cooking techniques. “It’s the basic ingredients, how you stir fry them, how you actually get them into a hot wok — then the flavor comes out. It’s a technique that we use; it’s not like other restaurants where they have to enhance the flavor,” he says.
Little Village also emphasizes using prime ingredients, especially locally sourced ones, whenever possible. You’re in luck if you spot Baby Bella Stir Fried with Island Fish ($18.95) on the specials board, as it only is available when the restaurant is able to obtain local catches like monchong and mahi. As for Garlic Butter Steamed Kauai Prawn ($17.95), island seafood is presented in a comforting and familiar American-inspired sauce that instantly resonates with an myriad of diners.
Making any Little Village meal complete is the cozy restaurant’s inviting ambiance, detailed with warm wooden accents, bight greenery and a wall-sized photograph depicting China’s gorgeous countryside. It is in this setting, when a beautifully presented — and delicious — dish is placed in front of you, that the entire experience excites all of your senses. Chang adds, “When I first designed this restaurant, I wanted people to get away to a different environment, where they can come and relax with a meal … besides the food, I think experiencing the surrounding helps to pull everything together.”
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.