You have seen them in local convenience shops or at dim sum restaurants: chicken feet. If you are not familiar with the China-popular treat, you might find them a bit off-putting but still have a curiosity about what they taste like or what the appeal is.
Sampling several kinds of chicken feet, I discovered the texture is what makes them difficult to enjoy, but the flavor is not too bad. Most of the vacuumed packed chicken feet are, to some degree, spicy.
First up are the Infinite Chicken Feet (无穷鸡爪). The package is identifiable by the square rooster logo at the top left corner of the bag, and two baked chicken feet on the cover with red peppers. Upon opening the bag, you will be hit by a sweet and mild spicy smell. The taste is reflective of the smell. The texture is a setback being mostly skin, cartilage and bones. The foot still had the claws, but those are not for eating.
The Good Daughter-In-Law (乖媳妇) chicken feet with wild pepper from Guai Xifu Food takes things up a notch on the spice scale. The feet look pickled through the transparent packaging. Instead of a full foot, it was several chicken toes and chunks of peppers. The skin was as though the foot was boiled before being soaked in the spice mix. A bit more meat was offered on this one, but again the texture made it difficult to be called fully enjoyable.
Stepping off the snack-pack path, my colleagues recommended I try the dim sum chicken feet. The feet did not come with the claws and were fried, making it easier to remove the meat. They were reasonably bigger than the vacuumpacked chicken feet and were drizzled with a slightly salty sauce.
If you dare to try chicken feet, the dim sum style ones are the most recommended.