Sichuan food from the Michelin-starred team behind restaurant Cafe China is now available in Williamsburg. Restaurateurs Xian Zhang and Yiming Wang soft-opened their restaurant Birds of a Feather at 191 Grand Street, between Driggs Avenue and Bedford Avenue, last week. Zhang tells Eater that a grand opening will likely happen in a month, after the restaurant receives its liquor license.
It’s not an exact replica of the husband-wife team’s Midtown hit, which is known for its stellar take on classic Sichuan dishes. The restaurant’s chef Ziqiang Lu, who was in the Cafe China kitchen when it first earned its Michelin star, is serving a menu that’s slightly more modern — sometimes only taking inspiration from the Sichuan province rather than recreating classics.
For instance, instead of braised eggplant in a sweet-and-spicy garlic sauce, Birds of a Feather serves a dish called fried eggplant accordion. A long, rod-like Asian eggplant — thinner than the fat ones typically found in grocery stores — is cut into an accordion shape so that all the pieces are still attached, Zhang says. It’s dipped into a batter and fried into a crisp. Sweet and sour garlic sauce, similar to the familiar version found at many Sichuan restaurants, is then poured on top.
Other dishes aim to incorporate ingredients not commonly found in Chinese cuisine, like a poached pork belly wrapped around okra or Japanese tofu topped with a slice of thousand-year egg.
“We tried to push the chefs to do something they haven’t done before, to be a little bit more creative,” Zhang says.
Still, Williamsburg locals seeking out classic Sichuan dishes will find some on the soft opening menu at Birds of a Feather. Dishes like mapo tofu with minced pork, braised beef in a spicy chili stew, sautéed string beans, and double-cooked pork are currently available, though the menu will likely see a few changes before the grand opening.
Birds of a Feather, seating between 60 and 70 people, is the third restaurant for Zhang and Wang. Besides Cafe China, they also own China Blue, a Tribeca restaurant specializing Shanghai cuisine. Check out the menu for the soft opening below, and let us know what you think if you stop by.