About 17 years ago, David Chang and his partners, Jennifer and Kenneth Chan, began planning a new restaurant in Chinatown.
They knew they wanted to offer high-quality, healthy food, influenced by Northern Chinese cuisine. They knew they wanted it to be something both lowkey and welcoming. “We always talked about the audience,” Chang remembers. “The audience is the customer we cater to. They want to step away from an office environment, to someplace that’s cozy, comfortable, and casual.”
And Chang, who previously worked as a contractor, had a very special vision for the decor. “I’ve built so many restaurants, and I understand construction. All the Chinese restaurants I built, I felt like they were more cafeteria-style. I wanted to bring something unique to Chinatown.”
Without question, Little Village Noodle House is one of the most charming and unusual restaurants on this island. The owners’ approach resulted in a space filled with sweet, dramatic touches, and plenty of whimsy. It boasts designs that are like a courtyard in the center of a small village, as if a bit of the outdoors has been brought inside.
Furnishings and details include sturdy wooden tables and chairs; faux thatched awnings; partitions and fences constructed of slender logs with bark still attached. There are flowers and dragonflies and big glass carp; kites and lanterns and a suspended bamboo ceiling in part of the dining room.
A well-trod bridge with a rough-hewn railing leads to the private party room. And if you’ve ever been lucky enough to enjoy a private gathering in that room, you already know that it’s a regal space, with enough room to accommodate a party of 50.
At the heart of the main dining room, by the cashier, is a giant willow tree. “It gives a taste of nature, I guess,” Chang says, laughing. “That’s why we used a lot of natural materials that you can see and touch. It’s a collection of the things I experience outside, and it’s something I would enjoy myself.”
For the office workers of downtown Honolulu who come here for lunch, this restaurant does, indeed, provide something of an escape.
Additionally, for Mother’s Day, every year since its opening in 2001, Little Village has offered a magnificent meal with courses planned specifically for Mom’s discerning palate.
“We only have one mother, you know,” Chang reminds gently. With a chuckle, he adds, “Take off Mom’s apron and get her out of the kitchen!”
And then? Bring Mom to Little Village Noodle House, for a 10-course feast in a charming setting designed to delight the whole family!
Little Village’s Ten-Course Mother’s Day Menu:
Snow Fungus Herbal Chicken Soup
(with goji berries and herbs)
Seafood Lettuce Wrap
(with mixed seafood, shiitake mushrooms, chestnuts, crispy vermicelli and spicy aioli)
Roasted Duck Salad
(includes chopped lettuce, red cabbage, parsley, carrot and sesame hoisin dressing)
Golden Skin Crispy Fried Chicken
(fresh young hen seasoned with five-spice)
Sweet Sour Boneless Fish Fillet
(basa fillet with tomato, onion and celery tossed in a house special sweet and sour sauce)
Crispy Skin Roasted Duck
(young duck roasted fresh daily)
Mushroom & Crab Gravy over Baby Spinach
(baby spinach topped with imitation crab and mushroom gravy)
Volcano Pork Chop
(with roasted garlic; crispy pork chop wrapped in foil and set aflame!)
Garlic Fried Rice
(includes diced onions and mushrooms)
Berries Custard Tapioca
(with fresh berries)
Available May 11 for dinner only, and all day on May 12 and 13. $320 for 10 people; $160 for four people.