Little House Cafe, a gem of a Malaysian restaurant masquerading as a Chinese bakery, is one of my all-time favorite spots in Queens. Located on a stretch of Corona Avenue in Elmhurst that features several Chinese businesses it’s always a stop on my Elmhurst food tours, usually for the amazing chow kueh teow. The tangle of stir fried noodles shot through with all sorts of goodies—shrimp, squid, and fish cake to name a few—arrives at the table alive with the energy, flavor, and color of wok hei.
When I find myself in the neighborhood solo, I pop in to see what’s on the rotating menu of weekend specials. Which is exactly how I came to be eating a $12 plate of salted egg prawn chow fun for breakfast yesterday. Actually I suppose breakfast was the Malaysian style brown sugar cake and iced coffee that I sipped while waiting for my noodles.
The chow fun at Little House before is as superb as the chow kueh teow, but this weekend’s special—xian da xia chow fun—is some next level noodles. The tangle of chow fun gone dark from soy sauce and the heat of the wok is coated in savory salted egg, and shot through with curry leaves, bits of dried chilies, and fried egg. The whole lot is topped with plump shrimp that have been cooked in a salted egg batter. Spicy, savory, and slightly sweet, it’s the best plate of noodles I’ve had this month.
“We invented it. My Dad made it, Joanne Lee, whose father Michael Lee is the chef. “Right now in Singapore and Malaysia salted egg is very popular. A lot of people are interested in salted egg.”
A lot of people in Queens, including me, are interested in the savory rich flavor of xian da too. In fact I often buy salted egg snacks—Lays Thai chips and others—with the intention of writing about them, but they somehow vanish before I can take a photo, much less pen a sentence about their addictive qualities. Little House even occasionally sells such a snack. It consists of corn flakes coated in salted egg, chilies, and curry leaves, some of the very same flavors in this weekend’s very special chow fun.
Joanne tells me that salted egg prawn chow fun might not come around for another month. Perhaps in the meantime the cornflake snack will return. Who knows, I might even post a photo of it with a copy of the day’s newspaper. Proof of snack, if you will.
Little House Cafe, 90-19 Corona Ave., Elmhurst, 718-592-0888