The man behind a popular burger joint has added spicy chicken sandwiches to his repertoire. Chef Sunny Vohra has opened Thunderbirds HTX inside Railway Heights Market, the food hall and shopping plaza near the Heights.
Vohra, an L.A. transplant whose Houston resume includes time at Indian fine dining restaurant Kiran, first made a splash with Margaux’s Oyster Bar in Bravery Chef Hall and smash burger restaurant Peaky Grinders at Railway Heights. Having recently parted ways with former business partner Choey Dang, Vohra switched Peaky Grinders to the Meat + Cheese Project — a new concept built around smash burgers and cheesesteaks — and opened Thunderbirds.
For her part, Dang will open a new location of Peaky Grinders in the upcoming Midtown location of the Conservatory food hall and maintains ownership of Margaux’s, Vohra tells CultureMap.
Turning to Thunderbirds, the new restaurant serves Sichuan hot chicken. Similar in approach to Nashville hot chicken but made with a different blend of spices, Vohra explains that each chicken piece gets marinated in both a spice paste and a spice oil that’s infused with Korean chiles, Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon and other ingredients. After cooking, it’s dusted with a power made from Sichuan peppercorns and, for those who really want to feel the burn, scorpion chiles.
Chef Vohra says that Daybird, a chicken concept founded by Top Chef season 12 winner Mei Lin, as well as traditional Sichuan restaurants Lao Sze Chuan and Chongping Chicken influenced his direction. Like the Meat + Cheese Project, Thunderbirds serves halal meat.
"I have always been fascinated by the complexities of Sichuan cuisine and its symphony of flavors," Vohra said in a statement. "We wanted to create a unique and unforgettable taste by combining the essence of Sichuan with the classic Nashville hot chicken sandwich. The result is a flavor-packed fusion that challenges taste buds and leaves customers wanting more."
The menu includes chicken sandwiches, chicken sliders, chicken wings, and fries that are topped with fried chicken and sauce. Calamansi lemonade helps ease the burn.
Railway Heights Market has seen significant turnover since it opened in 2021. Of its opening vendors, only Mykuna, a South American concept from chef David Guerrero, remains open. In addition to Thunderbirds, other newcomers include Meshiko, Mexican-influenced sushi restaurant; Mediterranean concept Z Pita; and El Comal Taco Eatery.