Spice up your life at this downtown eatery

A La Carte

July 22, 2018

Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Hu Nam Spicy Steamed Fish ($15.95)

The word “spicy” sometimes holds the ability to strike fear into the hearts of otherwise adventurous diners. On a Chinese menu, a dish described as spicy generally is considered dangerous and unapproachable, like an angry tiger in a rusty cage.

Fortunately, diners can rest assured that all of Little Village Noodle House’s offerings are quite welcoming. After Little Village opened in 2001, managing partner David Chang and his team soon realized that most local palates couldn’t tolerate the heat in the restaurant’s spiciest dishes. And so the team carefully adjusted their recipes accordingly.

Szechuan Spicy Chicken ($10.95)

“Americans like their food just a little on the spicy side — they enjoy that flavor,” says Chang. “So we do mild spice.”

Highlights on the menu this month include a trio of “spicy” dishes, all of which can be prepared with minimal heat. Chang proudly recommends Hot & Sour Soup ($10.50).

“I think we’ve got the best,” he says. “The flavor profile is just right, with crunchy bamboo, wood fungus and soft tofu.”

Hot & Sour Soup ($10.50)

Hu Nam Spicy Steamed Fish ($15.95) is Little Village’s version of a dish Chang experienced when traveling in China more than a decade ago — steamed fish heads smothered with fiery chili peppers. “Instead of fish heads, we use fillets,” he explains. “The color is there because we use red bell peppers, but we tone down the spice.”

After the fish is steamed, it’s pan-fried in hot oil with soy sauce and a little chili pepper. The results are clean and fresh, the perfect melange of garden and sea.

Chang encourages even those with mid-to low-heat tolerance to sample Little Village’s Szechuan Spicy Chicken ($10.95), a fragrant dish with a blend of Chinese and American herbs. “Everything is toned down,” notes Chang. “In fact, Chinese people love the flavor, but they say, ‘You’ve gotta add more heat!'”

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