The down low on dim sum in Edmonton

In honour of the Chinese New Year, the CBC's Adrienne Pan shares her tips and tricks on dim sum.

Adrienne Pan shares her dim sum tips as the Year of the Rooster begins

Adrienne Pan shares her secrets to having the best dim sum experience. (Eman Bare )

To celebrate Saturday's start of Lunar New Year, many Edmontonians will indulge in dim sum.

Dim sum is a kind of Chinese brunch, generally served between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in restaurants.

Servers push around carts filled with bite-sized delicacies. Customers pick and choose from the offerings and are charged for each dish they select.

There are lots of places to eat dim sum in Edmonton, but if you're new to it, the experience can be a bit daunting.

CBC Edmonton TV news host Adrienne Pan is well-versed in the art of dim sum. She shared her picks and tips on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

Adrienne Pan knows how to find good dim sum in Edmonton. (Terry Reith/CBC)

"The food generally comes in two categories," Pan said. "You have fried food, and steamed food, and a lot of food comes in little bamboo baskets."

It's a dining experience better suited to larger groups of people, she said.

"Go with more than two people, ideally four and up, because it's all about sharing all sorts of plates.

"The dishes usually come in fours, so if there are only two of you, you ended up eating a lot of one thing and you don't get to try a lot.

"And go early, 10-10:30 if you can. If you go at 11:30 you will be waiting in line, guaranteed."

Pan said Edmonton's dim-sum scene isn't on the same elevated level as in Toronto and Vancouver, but she listed a few of her favourite local spots.

Top Three:

Golden Rice Bowl, 5565 Gateway Blvd.

"It's probably the place I go to the most. It's the biggest restaurant and I feel like they offer the best variety."

Beijing Beijing, 3803 Calgary Tr.

"It's pretty good and fairly consistent, but the service there is lacking. I found it to be rude, so it's not my first pick because of that."

Cha for Tea, 17512 Stony Plain Rd.

"It's probably the priciest of all the options, but they do a pretty good dim sum."

A few of the dishes up for grabs during dim sum. (Golden Rice Bowl)

Pan has a few delicious classics she makes sure to choose each time.

"I have five or six dishes that I would recommend you eat, that are really representative of what you get at dim sum. And they are not too scary."

Siu mai: a pork dumpling. You can identify it by the little red dot on top.

Ha gow: a shrimp dumpling. It has a translucent wrap that looks like a seashell.

Gah mei bao: a sweet coconut bun, long and yellow with sesame seeds on top.

Rice rolls: They come in three varieties — pork, shrimp, or a Chinese long doughnut. And you want to have a a lot of sweet soy sauce on there.

Footballs: "I actually don't know the real Chinese name for these dishes," Pan said. "There's a frizzy football, which is actually taro and pork on the inside, and then there is a smooth football, which has ground pork inside. They taste completely different. But they look like footballs."

Pan recommends going with up to four people, to try as many dishes as possible. (Instagram:@Chaforteapalace)

And in honour of 2017 being the Year of the Rooster, why not go all in and try some chicken feet?

Pan promises they aren't as scary as they look.

"Honestly, chicken feet are delicious. They go through several different cooking processes. First they are fried, then they're boiled, and they're braised and they come with a sauce on them.

"So they end up being really, really tender."