Moving from Seattle to Charleston last year meant trading chicken feet for shrimp heads, an exchange which was easier to swallow before the onset of genuinely cold weather made every day feel like an excellent day for dim sum.
If you’re not already enamored of chicken feet, there’s nothing I can say to sway you: Gelatinous skin and chewy tendons don’t come across as selling points, I know. And chicken feet’s resemblance to human hands probably doesn’t help. But chicken feet, one of the great intersections of Chinese and Jewish cuisines, have a deep-set braised flavor that’s ideal fodder for extending gnawing sessions. Chicken feet, rice noodles and turnip cakes are my idea of a perfect dim sum meal.
So I was thrilled when an online amble led me to a Yelp review citing the chicken feet at Riso Noodle House in West Ashley. “For those wanting more authentic flavors, they give you a second menu full of more unusual flavors such as chicken feet,” Brandon H., a curry fan, reported back in July.
Brandon was nearly right: There aren’t any chicken feet at Riso, but there is a second menu for diners not interested in teriyaki bowls, chicken wings or French fries mounded with Cheddar cheese, bacon and ranch. Among the nearly two dozen items are fried pork intestine; honeycomb tripe; scallion chicken and a dish the menu calls “beef marshall ball” (my Waygo app, which translates blocks of Chinese text, identifies it as mangosteen diced beef .) Diners who plan days in advance can order roast pork by the pound or a whole soy sauce chicken.
There’s also a soybean pork feet noodle soup, which seemed like the best stand-in for chicken feet. The peppery, long-cooked soup had a fatty thickness — little wonder, since it bobbed with enough pig feet to form a track team – which responded well to a healthy dose of chili oil. Jammed with translucent leaves of cabbage; skeins of skinny egg noodles and tender pork knuckles, the $9.95 bowl was a superb antidote to a chilly afternoon. Even better, I’ve found a favorite local Chinese restaurant – even if I’ll have to look elsewhere for chicken feet.
Riso Noodle House is located at 1890 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. It’s open Tues.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. and Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. For more information, call 225-1698 or visit risonoodlehouse.com.