Birds Of A Feather: When spice is nice
Birds Of A Feather's contemporary dishes sneaks in Sichuan spices and flavours
I cannot handle spicy food but for Sichuan cuisine, the aromatic spices are alluring, so I'm willing to suffer the consequences.
I was excited about Birds Of A Feather (BOAF) because it promises a contemporary take on dishes while sneaking in Sichuan spices and flavours.
They kept their promise. It turned out to be an excellent experience, with a mix of traditional and unique dishes on the menu. It is one of the best debuts this year.
The owners of BOAF run Good Wood Coffee, a successful chain of cafes across Chengdu, and they know how to turn diners on.
BOAF has excellent food but half the people there are probably there for the decor - with plants, art, quirky furnishings and fixtures as lures.
There is an internationality about BOAF too. This could be a cafe in London, New York, Istanbul or Shanghai.
It is not so much the ingredients in the Fortune skewer in Sichuan pepper broth ($19) that thrilled - you have items like a quail's egg or vegetables to dip into the broth. But that glorious chicken-based broth will win over customers. The heat from the green chilli, Sichuan pepper and sesame oil is deceptive on first taste. It starts mellow before flowering into a throat-numbing soup. Add $5 for glass noodles because you will drink it all up.
Crispy pork trotter in a bag ($19) works because of the addictive Sichuan spicy soya bean, made from organic soya bean, Sichuan pepper, salt and chilli powder. It's a salty, spicy combination that would be great over rice.
I thought it was strange that I didn't like BOAF's take on a most traditional Sichuan dish, the Mapo tofu ($15). This version is expected and when there are so many other dishes to explore, why waste calories on this?
The attempt to marry East and West resulted in grilled cheese panini with braised pork belly and pickled cabbage ($20). The pork is excellent, and pickled cabbage works every time.
The name is also comical - Find the chicken in the chillies ($16) - but it is no laughing matter how deadly the spices are. Chicken is marinated with Sichuan seasoning and then deep-fried with dried red chillies. Even as my lips were burning, I was reaching for more. Proceed with caution.
Birds Of A Feather
113, Amoy Street
Monday to Saturday: 10am to 11.45pm; Sunday: 10am to 6pm (From December, it's 10am to 11.45pm all week)