FRUSTRATED BY SEVEN YEARS OF QUESTING FOR GREAT CHINESE IN HIS BUSHWICK HOOD, A MICHELIN-STARRED CHEF STARTED SOMETHING ENTIRELY NEW STORY AND PHOTOS
BY MATT SCANLON AND MICHAEL TULIPAN
After moving to Bushwick in 2009, Michelin starred Chef Kevin Added was disappointed to find that there was a lack of quality Chinese food in the area and filled the void by cooking his own noodles and dumplings on days off. This search gradually became an obsession, one that fueled the plan for his next restaurant (the first being Faro, also in Bushwick, owned by Adey and his wife, Debbie). In 2017, plans for what would ultimately be General Deb’s started coming together, and its Irving Avenue doors have just opened.
Adey’s mission was to combine a fascination with noodles, a passion for humanely raised meat, seasonal and organic produce, and his Michelin star mindset. The resulting fare, he imagined, would not be “elevated” or “chef y,” as he put it; instead, dishes would be traditional renditions of Sichuan classics that highlight the complex favors and spices of the region.
The result is one of the most interesting improvisations on Asian fare we’ve tasted since Fushimi in Williamsburg fused traditional Japanese fare with French nouvelle cuisine. General Deb’s starters include Bang Bang Rabbit (chilled steamed rabbit in a spicy sesame sauce); Tiger Salad of scallion, peppers, coriander, and rice vinaigrette; and Pork Wontons in chili oil house made dumplings stuffed with pork from Autumn’s Harvest Farm in Upstate New York, blessed by a hot and sour mix of chili oil, scallions, minced cilantro stems, soy, vinegar, and ginger Adey’s noodles are found in dishes like Dan Dan Mian (fresh egg noodles with minced pork and homemade pickled mustard in a sesame sauce); Chongqing Xian Mian, with green beans, leafy greens, peanuts, and pork fat; and Chengdu Zajiang Mian sliced noodles with bok choy and pork belly in a sauce of red oil and doubanjiang (a spicy paste made with fermented broad beans). Then there’s Niurou Mian, a beef noodle soup with red cooked cow head, cabbage, scallions, and chili oil in an anise infused broth a dish that’s said to have been brought to Taiwan by soldiers fleeing in the wake of China’s civil war, and which undergoes a three day cooking process that coaxes maximum flavor out of the beef.
Other main menu items include La Zi Ji (Chicken with dried Sichuan chilli peppers) and Dan Dan Mian (fresh egg noodles with minced pork and homemade pickled mustard in a sesame sauce). Specials vary, not surprisingly, but can include whole fried fish and whole roasted rabbit.
The bar menu features cocktails by Gabe Veras, such as The Mezcal, with Fidencio Clásico Mezcal, Azteca Reposado tequila, Luxardo Maraschino, pomegranate, and Sichuan peppercorn; an elixir with Luksusowa vodka, beet juice, mint, ginger and lime; and Lite Rum, a take on the Painkiller, with Rhum J.M. Agricole and fresh juices (coconut, pineapple, lime, and orange). Local beer on draft and a list of small producer wines are also on hand.
The intimate space features a red and black design scheme and a neon sign that reads “Refuel” in Chinese characters. The bar seats 10 and the dining room 25, with almost all seats allowing a peek into the kitchen through a wide pass.
24 Irving Avenue / 718.417.3300