Chico feo adds new wrinkle with the opening of Feo East … again
By Jessica Cobb | Contributing Writer
If you’ve ever sat for a while sipping and dining at Chico Feo on a busy day, you may find yourself indulging in some first-rate people watching. Their eclectic mix of patrons usually include locals at the bar stopping in for a beer and conversation, a young couple with a stroller scarfing down a black bean bowl and a Num Pang (their version of a Banh Mi), or a table full of women sharing a plate of fish tacos and Samurai Slings (a yummy concoction of cucumber-infused Sake and lemonade).
The one thing that all of these guests will have in common? They are people who have wandered in to this gem of a spot looking for something out of the ordinary, a place where they can try something wonderfully different.
Now we’ve all gotten familiar with Chico Feo, it’s time to walk around to the other side of the building to a tiny five-seat bar on the front porch. Here you’ll find yourself in … Feo East, a new venture that offers a welcomed unique menu Friday through Sunday, evenings from 5 p.m.-until.
Owner Hank Weed has re-invented this nook into a cozy Asian influenced ramen shop. This isn’t the first time that customers have perched in these seats; this row of windows has twice in the past served up diverse dishes, including Acai concoctions and noodle bowls. Thankfully that didn’t stop Weed, along with Chef Jeb Bennett, to go for a third shot with their small but thoughtful menu. Bennett is a classically trained chef of the Art Institute who spent two years in Japan, tasting and soaking up all of the cuisine and culture that the country had to offer. This led him to use his knowledge and combine forces with chef/owner Weed (a food-destination/world-traveler himself) to create an umami-packed experience that you won’t soon forget.
Most may already be familiar with the “stuff that dreams are made from” Wu-Tang bowl served here, filled with house made ramen noodles in a rich pork broth with caramelized pork belly, soft boiled egg, roasted vegetables, and kimchi. Start with the Enoki Beech Mushroom Miso Soup: the miso, Szechuan chili oil-infused broth will warm you, the bite of fresh bok choy and heat of a 5-year kimchi mixture give it a punch, while the floating Matzo-style dumplings made from the ramen noodle dough round out this flavorful bowl. Next, cleanse your palate with the Sunomono cucumber salad: the pickled daikon/carrot/radish mixture along with house-made chili oil will wake your tongue up, while the nuttiness of sesame seeds and crunch from fresh scallions give it a nice lightness. Looking for a bit of comfort-food feel in your bowl? Go straight for the Miso Glazed Roasted Tomato dish that is filled with house made wheat noodles, a perfectly-jammy 6 minute egg, bok choy, and blistered tomatoes, all tossed in a warm miso vinaigrette. Chico Feo’s next dish that is soon to be an island favorite are the Sesame Pork Dumplings. What seems to be a classically simple dish is elevated by the trio of dipping sauces served alongside, including a sweet soy, a sesame ginger mirin, and a spicy blend of soy and that amazing chili oil yet again.
Ordering multiple dishes to share and sampling their sake selection underneath the soft glow from the hanging Asian lanterns proved to be a fantastic evening for my date and I. If you’re into unconventional dining like me, you’ve been waiting for something like this to come back to Folly for a long time. These dishes may rotate slightly to include new, funky ideas from these two talented guys, so don’t wait too long to visit Bowls Deep… after all, it’s only open three days a week and the secret will be out soon enough.
Jessica Cobb is a Folly Beach resident with years of culinary experience tucked into her apron pocket. Classically trained chef and owner of local catering company, Some Like It Hot, she joins the Folly Current as a contributing writer to the Food and Dining section in hopes of sparking new interest, cravings, and insight from our eclectic bunch of restaurants.