As anyone who has followed by restaurant reviews would know, my wife Jun and I have a not-so-occasional craving for the heat in our food, whether it’s visiting one of the Sichuan or Thai restaurants in the city or ordering from Dos Toros with a ton of habanero sauce. Even when we profusely sweat while eating spicy dishes, we just can’t help it! While going to Williamsburg has become less convenient due to the scheduled repair of the L train, we recently realized that we were long overdue for a second visit to Birds of a Feather from the same team behind Café China (see my review of the restaurant on our first visit here https://kenscale.com/2018/07/31/birds-of-a-feather/) and invited a couple of other friends to join us for a Saturday dinner. Going to a Chinese restaurant in a large group has a distinct advantage as we can then order a variety of dishes we haven’t tried last time. Interestingly, while the second meal at Birds of a Feather was again solid, we missed a bit of the heat from last time.
In our first visit, our unanimous favorite dish was the eggplant with chili. For some reason, Jun thought the eggplant came out warm last time, while I remembered it being served cold just like the recent dinner. In any event, Jun’s impression of the eggplant was somewhat diminished due to the temperature issue. The husband and wife special (sliced beef and tripe seasoned with chili-peanut sauce) is still a must-order appetizer at the restaurant, ideal for sharing. I was, though, slightly underwhelmed by mung bean noodles in garlic and roasted peppercorn chili oil which didn’t have the textural integrity I was looking for.
The poached wonton in chili sauce was solid but not quite to the level at our favorite dim sum restaurant in Chinatown. The larger dishes were mostly delicious, but the level of spiciness seemed to have been toned down, like the spicy soft shell crab that I remember as delightfully fiery on our last visit but was no longer so at this dinner. Both of the dishes that we didn’t try last time, the double cooked pork sautéed with leek and miso sauce and the sizzling baby squid with onion, scallion and chili pepper, also could’ve used a bit more heat.
Getting a reservation at Birds of a Feather is highly recommended given the relative dearth of Sichuan restaurants in Williamsburg; the dining space was nearly full during our meal. The clean, modern atmosphere of the restaurant is a plus to the dining experience, and there is a concise selection of beer and wine to complement your meal. It could very well be the case that Birds of a Feather is playing a bit more safe in the heat department to cater to the wider audience in Brooklyn some of whom can’t handle the authentically spicy Sichuan food. Overall, the meal at Birds of a Feather was still delicious and had many dishes worth sharing in a large group, but Jun and I walked out from the restaurant wishing we were sweating more from the heat.
KenScale: 8.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 7.75/10)
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 191 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Telephone: (718) 969-6800