’24K Magic’

Ono, You Know

November 18, 2018

Story By: Ellise Kakazu | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Dining Out editor Ellise Kakazu puts the spotlight on Little Village Noodle House’s Lettuce Wrap ($6.75 for five pieces).

I experienced major FOMO (fear of missing out) last week, as it seemed like I was the only one who didn’t get to see local boy Bruno Mars perform at the Aloha Stadium. My social media is flooded with countless concert videos and photos!

With Bruno steady on many minds, I decided to dedicate this column to the man of the hour. The Grammy-award winning singer is known for his eclectic style, mixing genres such as reggae, soul and pop to create chart-topping songs. So much like his golden blends of tones, tempos and beats, I want to feature a couple of healthy dishes that are composed of a range of flavor notes, ingredients and textures.

Get ready to experience an amazing lineup that will make you exclaim it is like, how Bruno sings it, “Twenty-four karat, twenty-four karat magic!”


Opening this culinary show is Little Village Noodle House, a popular Chinese restaurant that has been in business since 2001.

A closer peak at Little Village Noodle House’s Lettuce Wrap.

With plates like Orange Chicken, Honey Walnut Shrimp and Ma Po Tofu, Little Village is always packed with hungry customers looking to fill their stomachs with top-quality Chinese cuisine. According to owner David Chang, the delectable dishes rolling out of the restaurant’s kitchen does not feature any MSG (monosodium glutamate).

“You would never find MSG in my restaurant,” says Chang.

Chang also notes Little Village Noodle House’s mission is to provide healthier dining options, value and good food.

A menu item that hits all of the restaurant’s goals is Lettuce Wrap ($6.75 for five pieces). This fun, hands-on appetizer features a delicious mound of minced chicken, shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts and preserved vegetables, which is topped with candied walnuts and served alongside five, crisp pieces of iceberg lettuce.

After biting into a lettuce wrap, one may proclaim in the words of Bruno Mars, “Treasure, that is what you are!”

The dazzling wrap has been on the menu since day one and Chang notes it is a consistently popular dish. “(Lettuce Wrap is) simple but very nice,” notes Chang. “(It’s) a cross between a salad and a meal.” It is also a great option for vegetarians, as the chicken can be taken out of the mix, tofu can be added or it can come with strictly veggies.

What’s more, Little Village will offer a special, seasonal lettuce wrap featuring a scrumptious seafood mixture during the holidays (around Christmas and New Year). So, you will want to be on the lookout for that.


Just like Bruno Mars, Big City Diner had to work hard to make a name for itself.

Big City Diner’s Paniolo Chicken Salad ($13.49 Big, $10.49 “Not So Big”)

First opening its doors in 1998, the humble restaurant aspired to become the go-to spot for locals seeking fresh, delicious and healthy dining options. “From the day we opened, we have been offering brown rice at no charge,” notes owner Lane Muraoka. “It’s so important for people to be able to dine out at local restaurants and be able to have healthy options to choose from, so that we can all live longer, better.”

In addition to brown rice, Big City Diner offers fresh fish, garden burgers, vegetarian options and salads. According to Muraoka, a definite crowd-pleaser is Paniolo Chicken Salad ($13.49 Big, $10.49 “Not So Big”). The salad is a fun, colorful mix of herb-marinated chicken breast, tomatoes, sweet roasted corn, cilantro, cheese, red onions and mixed greens surrounded by crunchy, tri-colored tortilla chips. “We wanted a Southwestern flair wih an ancho-chile zing,” explains Muraoka. “(Paniolo Chicken Salad has) lots of different flavors, textures, crunch and colors.”

Besides health conscious plates, Big City Diner also dishes out classic, island favorites such as, The Original Really Loco, Loco Moco, Da Big Burger and Uncle Danny’s Fried Rice.

With Big City Diner’s stellar menu options, hefty portions and top-notch service, it is safe to say customers always can expect an unforgettable dining experience.

After grooving to this week’s culinary beats, I feel like a foodie rock star. I hope you do, too!

Honolulu, HI 96817

Honolulu, HI 96814

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