White Elephant is one of my family’s favorite places to treat ourselves to because it’s near our home. This time we celebrated my grandma’s US naturalization (go grandma!) with dinner. I tried everyone’s dishes and some desserts.
The Chicken Pad Thai ($13.99) is a classic; it’s my favorite Thai dish. I’ve had many renditions of the dish at restaurants near home, in DC, London and elsewhere. We have Pad Thai at J Street, our dining hall at GW and it’s way too salty. White Elephant’s Pad Thai is consistently good. The contrast of the soft noodles with the crunchy bean sprouts is great and the chicken is always flavorful. The flower-shaped carrot garnish was a nice touch, as was the orange slice, which is refreshing after the meal.
The Jay Curry ($11.99) was basically a vegetarian version of your choice of 3 curries: Massaman, red or green. I chose Massaman curry and my dish consisted of chewy tofu and mixed vegetables (potatoes, carrots, string beans, onions and broccoli) swimming in a red curry, peanut and coconut sauce served with rice. I loved the flavor of the sauce, but I wish I had gotten more rice to soak it all up. I chose the vegetarian version of this dish because I knew the tofu would absorb all the flavors in a way chicken couldn’t. The potatoes were also the perfect consistency – soft but not overdone.
My sister ordered the Himmaparn ($20.99) , which is described as “sauteed shrimp and chicken with cashew nuts and pineapple served in a boat of fresh pineapple.” She opted for all chicken, no shrimp and got a TON of meat. I would’ve gone for the chicken and shrimp for more variety. I really liked how the pineapple chunks absorbed all of the slightly spicy sauce (one chili pepper next to the dish on the menu). The pineapple garnish ended up amounting to a quarter of a fresh pineapple, which was a nice treat.
The dessert at White Elephant is amazing. When you ask to see the dessert menu, they bring you a tray of your options so you can see what you want before you choose (excuse the bad picture). Not pictured is homemade coconut ice cream, which they serve in a chocolate bowl.
We went with the molten chocolate cake and mango mousse. Both were served on a plate of delicious chocolate, coconut, mango and raspberry coulis presented in a marbled design. The chocolate cake had a hot, fudgey center perfectly complemented the cold coulis. The fruity flavors mixed really well with the rich, chocolatey flavor, which would have been overwhelming alone.
The mango mousse wasn’t as good as the chocolate cake. The mousse part was tasty, but the light flavor was masked by the overwhelming flavors of the coulis.
The interior of the White Elephant was decorated in every single possible decoration you could find at Pier1. There are also some plants throughout the restaurant and a fountain by the door. The lights are dimmed, creating an exotic, intimate and classy ambiance overall.
The waitstaff was attentive and knowledgeable about the menu. The food came out fairly quickly.
I’d also recommend going for lunch (Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30) to take advantage of the lunch special deal. You get a soup, appetizer or salad and an entree for $9.95. The coconut soup is great because it’s a great combination of sweet and spicy flavors in a hot broth, which is perfect for during winter.