In the presence of a complex classical dynamics associated with a mixed phase space, a quantum wave function can tunnel between two stable islands through the chaotic sea, an effect that has no classical counterpart. This phenomenon, referred to as chaos-assisted tunneling, is characterized by large fluctuations of the tunneling rate when a parameter is varied. To date, the full extent of this effect as well as the associated statistical distribution have never been observed in a quantum system. Here, we analyze the possibility of characterizing these effects accurately in a cold-atom experiment. Using realistic values of the parameters of an experimental setup, we examine through analytical estimates and extensive numerical simulations a specific system that can be implemented with cold atoms, the atomic modulated pendulum. We assess the efficiency of three possible routes to observe in detail chaos-assisted tunneling properties. Our main conclusion is that due to the fragility of the symmetry between positive and negative momenta as a function of quasimomentum, it is very challenging to use tunneling between classical islands centered on fixed points with opposite momentum. We show that it is more promising to use islands symmetric in position space, and characterize the regime where it could be done. The proposed experiment could be realized with current state-of-the-art technology.