Thursday, February 3, 2011

Delicious Dim Sum at Emperor's Palace, Edmonton


My latest piece for Food Network Canada...

In celebration of the first day of the Chinese New Year, I'd like to share my most recent dim sum discovery in Edmonton. As you may recall from my Dim Sum Spotlight last year, dim sum is an institution in my family. Those delicious bite-sized menu items along with ample cups of chrysanthemum tea go hand in hand with endless hours of socializing and quality family time. Going for dim sum in Edmonton is definitely a popular social activity and new restaurants serving this Chinese-style brunch are always opening up.

This time around, my mother was excited to check out a newly-opened restaurant called the Emperor's Palace, located in the heart of Edmonton's Chinatown. From the outside, it appears to be a typical restaurant, but as soon as you enter the lobby, you're greeted by a fabulous gold throne and glitzy accents that you'd typically associate with a royal dining room (fancy chandeliers, beautiful tables, etc.). Chinese restaurants can be a bit over the top (and downright tacky!) when it comes to decor, but in this case, the extravagant interior design set the mood and subtly hinted at what was in store meal-wise.

Being the dim sum connoisseurs that we are, my family and I like to order the standard items on every dim sum menu first -- which include shrimp dumplings - har gou, pork dumplings - siu mai and rice noodle rolls - cheong fun. A good dim sum restaurant can be determined by how well the shrimp is de-veined and the amount of fatty meats included in any one menu item. I'm delighted to report that these basic dishes all passed with flying colours! Every piece of shrimp was vein-less and the meat fillings in all of the other various dishes were deliciously lean.

From the basics, we like to move on to some of the more obscure delicacies including: chicken feet - fung zao, ginger tripe - gnau ba yip, and beef tendon. These dishes can often be hit or miss, but in this case, all three exceeded our expectations and took our taste buds to a whole new level.

The chicken feet was flavourful and fall-off-the-bone tender, the ginger tripe literally melted in our mouths, and the beef tendon was packed with rich luscious flavours. Also noteworthy, was the the pork and preserved duck egg congee which was prepared to the perfect consistency (not too thick and not too runny) and packed with lots of pork and duck egg. All of the other dishes we ordered were equally tasty using the finest ingredients. The service in this restaurant was exceptional as they never ran out of menu items and our tea pot was always full. Overall, our meal was fit for royalty and this restaurant truly lived up to its name.

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