The new menu at Birds of a Feather continues its fine tradition of looking at classic Sichuanese dishes through a contemporary Western lens.
Can you make an exotic cuisine even more idiosyncratic? Contemporary Chinese restaurant Birds of a Feather, known for its unique and playful takes on incorporating Sichuan influences to Western classics, thinks it can.
In fact, it has. Its previous ‘Reimagine Sichuan’ tasting menu, for example, explored the spicy regional northwestern Chinese cuisine through a modern lens. A recent revamp of its main ala carte menu continue that inventiveness, unleashing a slew of new dishes that are likely to delight and perplex both regulars and new patrons in equal measure.
The new menu was the result of a year-long journey of research and development, during which Executive Chef Eugene See even travelled to Chengdu to experience the original Sichuan flavours. Chef Eugene took those flavours, and, with a Birds of a Feather flourish, gave them his own spin.
There’s the House Cured Duck Breast Bruschetta, for example. It is a tribute to Sichuan aged meat (四川腊肉), but using French moulard duck. Chef Eugene cures his Sichuan seasoning marinated duck breasts in-house for 20 days, and then slices them thinly – it’s served with fromage blanc, fig and blackberry marmalade, on top of buttery brioche toast.
Or how about the quintessential Sichuan dish of Double Cooked Pork Belly (回锅肉)? Here the classic is ratcheted up a notch by braising it first in a master stock that has been simmered in the restaurant since 2018, before it’s returned to the wok. Chef Eugene chooses to serve it with a char-grilled octopus leg and fregola, in a play on a traditional Italian pairing in typical Birds of a Feather, East-meets-West fashion.
Eating fish with head and tail fully intact is part and parcel of Chinese cuisine – the wholeness of fish represents family unity. But rather than your usual whole steamed fish, Birds of a Feather grills a Whole Wild Caught John Dory in a charcoal oven to add smoky notes, and then ups the ante with burnt chilies. This scorched element is apparently a highlight of the Sichuan flavour profile.
But if you are ever in a position where you can only pick only one dish at Birds of a Feather, you won’t have regrets ordering the Homestyle Braised Pork Belly. Ordinarily, I eschew anything that has truffle – an ingredient that’s far too overused and abused in my opinion. However, it works in this dish. It comes as unctuous pork belly that’s been marinated in Sichuan chilli bean paste, fermented black beans, salt and soy, sitting proudly on a mound of mushroom garlic rice, topped with a confit egg and shaved black truffle, all ready to be stirred through the piping hot claypot. The earthiness of truffle blends itself into all the savoury flavours – along with a mild spice hit – and the wonderful charred bits at the bottom add a lovely texture.
As for drinks, Birds of a Feather has also introduced two new cocktails with Asian influences to pair with your meal. Lucky Red is a concoction made with Hong Hua Lang, a rare baijiu imported from the Langjiu Distillery in Gulin County, Sichuan, with a history tracing back to the Han Dynasty around 123 years ago. Then there’s Osmanthus Tequila Sour, a twist on the classic sour by using the floral notes of osmanthus to balance the sharpness of passionfruit and lemon in this cocktail.
Admittedly modern Chinese food isn’t something one craves for on a daily basis. But the new dishes at Birds of a Feather do a fine job in pushing the envelope of what traditional Sichuan flavours can be when blended with contemporary Western techniques and finesse.
[Image credit: Superadrianme.com]
Birds of a Feather
Address 115 Amoy St, #01-01, Singapore 069935 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 10.45am to 3pm and 5pm to11pm on Mondays to Wednesdays; 10.45am to 3pm and 5pm-12am on Thursdays; 10.30am to 12am on Fridays and Saturdays; 10.30am to 10pm on Sundays
Tel (65) 6221 7449 / 9755 7115