At Birds of a Feather in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a bowl of slippery, feather-light pork won tons in chile oil has a red ring suspended around its edge that, to the spice-averse, may look like a warning. But the heat arrives gently, the oil used sparingly in a special sauce that’s more sweet and tangy than it is fiery. The chef, Ziqiang Lu, sprinkles the dish with a confetti of stir-fried dried chiles ground together with rattan peppercorns, a type of green Sichuan peppercorn so floral that it smells as if it’s in the process of blooming.
“I want people to understand Sichuan cuisine better, and not just get hung up on the hot aspect of it,” Mr. Lu said through a translator. “It’s very varied, and there’s a big spectrum of how the spices should interact.”