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24 Irving Ave, Bushwick Brooklyn, NY 11237
General Debs is a Sichuan restaurant from the same people behind Faro and formerly Northeast Kingdom. The menu is a huge departure from their other ventures, but don’t let this deter you. Expect traditional Sichuan dishes at General Deb’s — hot sesame noodles, bang bang rabbit, twice cooked pork — even though the owners aren’t Chinese. As with their other ventures, ingredients are always fresh and dishes are all made with care. General Debs offers some of our favorite Chinese food in Brooklyn.
The menu at General Deb’s pays tribute to the provincial cuisine using sustainably raised meats from Autumn’s Harvest Farm in upstate New York, like rabbit that’s roasted whole and slicked with a chile-and-fermented-bean-paste sauce. The bean curd for mapo tofu will be made in-house, and “fish slices in fiery sauce” will employ local seafood like black bass rather than the ubiquitous tilapia. There will also be wontons in red oil, dan dan mian, twice-cooked pork, cumin beef, and gong bao ji ding (a.k.a. kung pao chicken), plus a full bar serving beer, wine, and cocktails.
Adey is known for his pastas at Faro, which he makes from house-milled flours, and plans to eventually do the same for all his noodles at General Deb’s. But to start, he’ll outsource some from ramen kingpin Sun Noodle for iconic dishes like niu rou mian, the Taiwanese beef-noodle soup said to have originated with the influence of the Sichuan military families who migrated to the island after the Chinese civil war. Instead of the shank and tendon that usually populate that bowl, Adey is garnishing his anise-infused broth with red-cooked cow’s-head meat, in keeping with his whole-animal-utilization philosophy. “Cows have heads, too, and they’re excellent for soup,” he says. “At Faro, we fill the tortellini en brodo with meat from the head, and the consommé we make out of it is insane.”
General Deb’s is a Sichuan restaurant in Bushwick from the same people behind Faro, an Italian spot nearby. But unlike that place, General Deb’s is small, dimly-lit, and crowded with maybe one more table than there should be, as well as people sharing wontons in chili oil, pickled vegetables, and noodles. Most things on the menu are both very good and pretty spicy (although the wontons could have used a little more chili oil), so if you enjoy the slow burn of Sichuan peppercorn that sometimes makes your glass of water taste like it’s vibrating, you’ll like the food here. Overall, it’s a great addition to the neighborhood.
The “fish slices in fiery sauce” ($18) was a perfect evocation of what is often my favorite dish in the Sichuan restaurants of Flushing, Chinatown, and the East Village: a bowl of red chile oil swimming with fish filets and seething with Sichuan peppercorns. Take drink of cold water after a bite and your mouth feels like stainless steel. Wonton in red oil ($10) was another example of a dish true to its antecedents, requiring only a quick stir to be fully enjoyed.
Other dishes represent a reworking of traditional Sichuan fare. The rabbit appetizer on most menus is a bony but delicious plate of rabbit slicked with oil and dotted with peppercorns. Here, the bunny is boneless, and a dark sesame sauce has been added. Improvement or unwarranted meddling? You decide….
Beverages include wine, beer on draft and in cans, spirits, and invented cocktails. As far as Sichuan restaurants go, this one is likely to make you very happy: reverent toward its models, with a few interesting tweaks