Elephant Jumps, Merrifield

(For the Dec 16, 2010 Review, click here.)

lion, on 23 Aug 2015 – 9:59 PM, said:

Elephant Jumps is definitely one of the best Thai restaurants in the DC metro area.

DonRocks, on 23 Aug 2015 – 10:19 PM, said:Would someone please recommend some dishes at Elephant Jumps? Admittedly I’ve only been about three times – none recently – but I haven’t seen anything even approaching greatness. I’m willing to believe I’ve ordered wrong, and am certainly game to try it again (realistically, it will be most likely be for lunch, probably as carryout, if that helps you answer).

lion, on 23 Aug 2015 – 10:40 PM, said:TheMatt probably knows the name of the dishes better than I do, but they have a regional specialities section. Over the last 3-4 visits have tried most of them and they were all very good and not something offered at other Thai restaurants unless it was written not in English.

Lary, on 23 Aug 2015 – 11:28 PM, said:T3

TheMatt, on 24 Aug 2015 – 2:25 PM, said:As lion said, my first glance is about what’s on the chalkboard (banana blossom salad, say) or what’s new/special. I often head there when the elephantjumps Instagram feed has a new dish or is spotlighting something (currently, the pinto) or if the Chef’s feed has something new.

But, if I just head in, and the chef isn’t there for me to ask “What should I try today?”, I tend to focus on the “Serious Thai Cooking” section as seen on their webpage menu. I agree with lion that T3, the gang hunglay curry, is quite good, I also like the kanom jeen numya (the tuna curry).

I still haven’t gotten the anchovy sticky rice for dessert yet…

chertzog, on 25 Aug 2015 – 4:31 PM, said:My wife and I go to Elephant Jumps for lunch whenever we’re out that way on the weekend.  And we always order those dishes.  I don’t think I could long go without the hung lay and spicy tuna curries

ylkim30, on 26 Aug 2015 – 4:52 PM, said:The Hung Lay curry is seriously good.

I want to thank everyone who came to my aid when I asked about Elephant Jumps – you have a new convert!

I’ve visited here twice in the past couple of weeks, and have been dumbfounded at the dishes I’ve ordered – so much so, that I’m not even sure what I could compare Elephant Jumps to in terms of area Thai restaurants – not necessarily in terms of “quality,” but in terms of being so “different.” TheMatt mentioned something about it being close to Laotian, but I don’t see the pattern, so I’m not sure what it is (and I’m hardly an expert when it comes to Northeastern Thai or Laotian cuisine, my experience being pretty much the same as most others’ here – Bangkok Golden, Elephant Jumps, Little Serow … I haven’t even been to Thip Khao, I’m ashamed to say.

The first recent visit to Elephant Jumps was a drive-by, and I called and ordered three things from the “Serious Thai Cooking” section of their menu, two of which I’d never had before:

T3 – Gang Hung Lay ($17), slow-cooked pork curry, with a side of sticky rice. The pork is cooked for five hours (!) on low heat, and as the menu says, the serving size is small, but it’s a “concentrated” dish, a filling dish, and money well-spent from where I sit (which is usually in the diner’s seat).

T4 – Ka Nom Jeen Num Ya ($10), spicy curry tuna over Thai-style Noodle, some small fish balls (is *that* what those where!), and some greens.

I’m going to tell you something that may make you lose some respect for me, but I don’t care because it really, really worked, and worked well: I took all ingredients from both these of dishes, and put them side-by-side in the same mixing bowl. One reason for this is that I wasn’t entirely sure which condiment went with which dish, and nothing looked like it clashed, so …in they went. And let me tell you, just because T3 is “supposed” to be enjoyed with sticky rice, and just because T4 is “supposed” to be served with Thai-style noodes doesn’t mean you can’t mix-and-match, because everything works so well together – even getting some pork and tuna in the same bite – it doesn’t matter. Do it, play around with it, experiment – it’s delicious! All of it!

T10 – Pad Woon Sen ($12), stir-fried bean thread, tomato, celery, and egg. Pad Woon Sen is a staple, weed-out dish for me, and is therefore something I have might have gotten here years ago, and in all honestly, it fell far, far short in quality compared to the other two dishes I had on this evening (full disclosure, I left it covered, and reheated it for lunch tomorrow, but I do this all the time with Pad Woon Sen, and it reheats quite well, even in a microwave). This was an average version at best, and the portion size was somewhat guarded. This was not a repeat for me, and if I was judging Elephant Jumps based on this alone, my rating would not even be in Italic (as it stands, it is not only ranked in Italic, but raised to the #2 restaurant, behind Brine, in the Merrifield Dining Guide).

A consistency test: Once again, it was T3 and T4, and once again, both dishes performed as well as imaginable – they were terrific, every bit as good as the first time I had them. One visit was lunch, another dinner; one was in; the other out. Both were superb, and although two dishes does not a restaurant make, the members here were entirely successful in guiding me to terrific meals, and you absolutely helped Elephant Jumps due to your posts, your influence on this post, and its subsequent raised placement in the Dining Guide. Your posts here matter, not only because other people read them and are influenced by them, but because I read them, and when I see a pattern emerge like I saw with Elephant Jumps, I get on the express train to Dinnerville, following the advice of our seasoned members, almost always with effective results – our members are *awesome*!

Thank you, everyone, for showing me the light when it comes to Elephant Jumps; now, it’s time to figure out a pattern in terms of what to order – I suspect there are many other dishes that are the equal of T3 and T4, and enthusiastic wait staff, ready to jump in and help on a moment’s notice. I love these dishes at Elephant Jumps, and I love the members of this website. And so it goes! Thank you!

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