By RACHAEL FREY
Steaming pots of tea, the chatter of happy diners, and carts groaning under the weight of mouth-watering foods—dim sum is a dining experience unlike any other.
For the uninitiated, here’s how it typically works: diners are seated at an already set table with a pot of tea. Servers circulate throughout the room with wheeled carts loaded with different types of dishes and stop at each table. If you see something you want, they’ll leave it on your table and check it off on your order slip. It pays to be adventurous with your selections! The restaurants listed below are some of the best places in Calgary to indulge in a traditional Chinese dim sum feast.
Tips for Enjoying Dim Sum
• The dishes are meant to be shared by the whole table family-style rather than each individual ordering their own.
• Each place setting gets a small bowl and a small plate. The bowl is for eating out of and the plate is for discarding bones or other stuff you don’t want to eat.
• While chopsticks are standard, it’s okay to ask for a fork if needed.
• When the teapot is empty, turn the lid upside down and place the pot near the edge of the table to signal that you need a refill.
• If you spot something you want on a cart across the room, it’s acceptable to walk over to the cart to be served rather than waiting for it to come to you.
• If you want something particular and don’t see it on the carts, just ask—most places are willing to have the kitchen make it for you.
• It’s fine to ask for a to-go container for leftovers. Diners will often order quite a bit more than they can eat with the intention of taking the extras home.
Silver Dragon Restaurant
Arrive before noon, as the dining room fills up quickly and the line to get in to this second-storey restaurant can go all the way downstairs to the street. They have the standard dim sum offerings such as ha gow (a shrimp-filled dumpling with a translucent wheat starch wrapper) and shumai (an open-topped dumpling filled with pork), as well as some less common options like hatosi, a small piece of toast coated with minced shrimp and deep-fried.
• 106 – 3 Ave SE, 403-264-5326
U & Me Restaurant
If you’re struck by a sudden dim sum craving at 2 am, head straight to U & Me. Open from 8 am to 4 am, it’s one of the few places in Calgary to get any meal that late, let alone dim sum. Don’t miss the deep-fried shrimp dumplings served with a dollop of mayonnaise or the zhaliang, fried dough wrapped in a flat sheet of rice noodle.
• 223 Centre St S, 403-264-5988, www.uandmerestaurant.ca
Dragon Chinese Restaurant
This relative newcomer to Calgary’s restaurant scene opened in 2013. The décor is impressive, with plenty of red, gold and—naturally—dragons. Rather than choosing from carts, customers simply check off the dishes they want on a list and servers bring it out from the kitchen. Try the steamed buns stuffed with crabmeat paste, and for dessert, the “wolfberry jello” made with goji berries and lychee.
• 200, 118 – 5 Ave SE, 403-718-0088, dragonchinese.wordpress.com
Located on the upper floor of the Dragon City Mall, this large dining room serves up dim sum from the traditional carts as well as buffet style. If you’re tired of waiting for the carts to come around, just go up to the buffet and pick out what you want (remember to bring your order slip so the buffet attendant can check off your selections).
• 335, 328 Centre Street S, 403-777-2288, www.regencypalacerestaurant.com
Ginger Beef Bistro House
Don’t let the name fool you—the dim sum is authentic here. The clean, contemporary restaurant also offers an additional perk in that you can watch the chefs at work in the kitchen through a large window. They’re known for their ginger beef (of course), Peking duck, and xiaolongbao, a difficult-to-make Shanghai style dumpling filled with soup.
• 400, 388 Country Hills Blvd NE, 403-265-1616, www.gingerbeef.com
• 9629 Macleod Tr SW, 403-271-2233