There was a period when I ate Thai food with some regularity, but it was 20-30 years ago. For some reason – perhaps just a narrow palate – I concluded that I have a decided preference for Chinese food and didn’t eat much Thai from that point on.
But we were getting together with my mother and stepfather for Fathers Day, and I asked them to pick a place from a list of options in the area where we’d be. One of the places on the list was a Thai restaurant, and that was their selection. So I would return to a cuisine I used to be fairly fond of for the first time in at least a decade.
Actually, White Elephant, which is in the Rockledge section of Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania – very close to Northeast Philly – bills its cuisine as being Thai with a “little touch of French.”
The restaurant sits in an old, but refurbished, shopping center and doesn’t exactly catch the eye from the outside. But their interior is absolutely gorgeous, with traditional Thai touches all over the place.
Elephants have a place in Thai culture, and – in keeping with the restaurant’s name – they are seemingly found in almost every direction the eye wanders at White Elephant.
The menu was fairly long and contained many dishes that are generally found at American Thai restaurants, as well as some that had a bit of French influence.
These are just some of their offerings:
White Elephant is BYOB, but their non-alcoholic drinks arrived in beautiful serving glasses.
Three of us ordered first courses. My stepfather’s Tulip Dumplings, which were filled with ground shrimp, chicken and crabmeat, arrived first.
Then came my wife’s ginger salad and my crispy rolls.
The two thin crispy rolls had a nice crust and were filled with pork, bean thread, and julienne vegetables. The sauce they came with was very similar to Chinese sweet and sour sauce.
Those of us who had appetizers were happy with them. But the verdicts on our entrees were mixed.
My wife enjoyed her Siam Noodles with tofu, but my step-father was less enthralled with his Pad Thai. My mother tried it and also thought this most popular of Thai dishes was off the mark.
My mother was also not overly impressed with her own entree – Mango Curry with shrimp and chicken – which was one of the evening’s specials. She said it didn’t have much in the way of mango – either flavor or pieces.
The other member of our party, Sondra, and I had more positive reactions to our main courses. She had a fairly spectacular-looking Cornish Hen with honey orange sauce flavored with Grand Marnier.
I went with with duck in a red curry sauce flavored with pineapple. It was both tender and flavorful.
I had actually eaten at White Elephant once before – probably 10-15 years ago. And that may have been the last time I had Thai food until Sunday. Based on the experience, I wouldn’t object to significantly cutting down on the gap until my next foray into the cuisine. But I sometimes need to be pulled away from Chinese food – my first and primary love when it comes to Asian cuisine.