Foot Fetish: First Chinese BBQ's Duck Feet Weave Web of Goodness

I'm a big fan of chicken feet.

Chicken feet are the flavor-giving ingredient in my mother's matzo ball soup, and the first item I swipe from dim sum carts.

But I'd never come across duck feet on a menu until I dined last night at First Chinese BBQ in Richardson, which is fast becoming my go-to Sunday night Chinese restaurant. (For more on why Sundays call for Chinese food, check out my earlier post on Elana Kagan's eating habits.)

Since First Chinese BBQ does quite a bit of duck roasting, it makes sense the restaurant has a surplus of feet. Duck feet are a bit chewier and jellier than chicken feet, mostly because of the webbing between the toes. Like the rest of the duck, foot meat is dark and smoky.

Still, I'm guessing not every duck feet preparation is as good as the earthy hot pot with wood ear mushrooms and greens I devoured at First Chinese BBQ. The feet had been braised so the soft-skinned meat could be easily sucked off the bones (perhaps counter intuitively, poultry feet are finger food), and the marinade was wonderfully thick, rich and sticky. At four or five feet in, my server brought me 10 extra napkins.

I'm not giving up on chicken feet, but -- if I had to choose -- I'd go with the duck. And I'm wondering which fowl foot I'll next have the chance to try.