Washingtonian Magazine, 100 Very Best Restaurant #54, Washingtonian Staff, February 12, 2020
You know you’ve ordered well when the diners next to you lean over to ask what’s on your table. Such is the case with this formidable Thai restaurant’s fried-papaya salad—golden fritters of fruit with lime sauce. Expect everyone to continue ogling the fried snapper prettied up with strips of green mango and cashews. Another treasure: banana-blossom salad with coconut milk, chicken, and shrimp. Inexpensive.
Washingtonian Magazine, 100 Very Best Restaurant #96, Washingtonian Staff, February 15, 2019
What makes this strip-mall Thai restaurant stand out from the (formidable) competition? Songtham and Panida Pinyolaksana’s boundary-pushing “authentic Thai” menu (separate from the main document), which holds delicacies you won’t find many other places around town. Crunchy shrimp over tamarind; smoky Chinese broccoli with marinated pork; and banana-blossom salad, an electrically spicy, herb-filled special. That said, the regular menu is no slouch. The kitchen slings a mean crab fried rice, too. Inexpensive.
The Washington Post Magazine, Fall Dining Guide, Tom Sietsema, October 14, 2018
Don’t bother with the chicken satay. ...offer sliced, steamed banana blossoms, tossed with what tastes like an Asian pantry ... — and served as a sweet and racy salad with shrimp and chicken. The special makes frequent appearances on the chalkboard menu...most distinctive dishes are found on the “authentic” section of the menu, which includes wide rice noodles, smoky from the wok, combined with crisp Chinese broccoli and garlicky marinated pork. It needs no embellishment, but add a splash of vinegar, ignited with green Thai chiles, and tell me it isn’t a superior, edgier experience.
Washingtonian Magazine, Eat Great Cheap, Washingtonian Staff, August 2018
We'd be happy with a plate of Pad See Ew - even take out...noodles are done better here – but the kitchen's showstoppers are “serious authentic Thai cooking.” That's where you'll find a smoky stir-fry of Chinese broccoli and marinated beef, a bright and spicy banana-blossom salad, and perhaps best of all, almost ethereally crunchy fried shrimp with tamarind.
Northern Virginia Magazine, 50 Best Restaurant, Stefanie Gans, October 25, 2017
The Panang curry is fantastic.... But it’s not why you come here. It’s for the dishes you aren’t familiar with... Here is for what you don’t know, a banana blossom salad that is pungent and spicy and wild and doesn’t really act like a salad but instead a compilation of herbs and vegetables and shrimp and inky strips of chewy banana blossom. More recognizable are fried shrimp in spiky batter loaded in a bowl over a salty, tangy, gravy-thick sauce pumped up ... but this rendition is what the nuanced BoJack Horseman is to the silly Mister Ed. Though the food is dynamic, the space is sparse with a few bedazzled embroidered elephants and a line of upside-down red umbrellas hanging from the ceiling leading to the restrooms. The service is efficient; the vibe is no-nonsense. This all makes it easier to relax and find pleasure and excitement in Thai cooking.
Washingtonian Magazine, Eat Great Cheap, Washingtonian Staff, July 17 2017
Make sure to survey the small blackboard of seasonal specials—that’s where the gems are hidden. Whole fish is always featured, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find fried red snapper showered in strips of green mango and cashews. Better yet is the banana-blossom salad with shrimp and chicken. Also good: Fried-watercress salad; gang hung lay, slow-cooked pork curry with ginger and tamarind.
Northern Virginia Magazine, Best Asian Restaurant, N0.1, Stefanie Gans, April 28, 2017
I couldn’t believe I was going to say it...“This is the most flavorful thing I’ve ever had in my mouth.” ...restaurants who serve food from other countries, food known for bold, strong, spicy flavors, often admit to lessening the intensity of dishes for their customers here... Having not been to Thailand, but having eaten plenty of bland, almost sweet Thai food in this country, I can attest to the utter vibrancy of ...Elephant Jumps. It’s that good kind of smack in the face, the kind where you want more....
Northern Virginia Magazine, 50 Best Restaurant, Stefanie Gans with Warren Rojas, November, 2016
The dishes at Elephant Jumps are lost in translation. It's not that the flavors don't transfer to our taste here; it's that we lack the vocabulary to describe such bright, nuanced dishes. In my mind, I see Roy Lichtenstein painting. Pop! Varoom! Wham! And this is all to describe a salad with roots and recipes from 100 years ago. It's a vibrant concoction, less salad than almost- soupy gathering of shrimp and chicken combined with banana blossoms absorbing the sour, sweet and spiciness of the surrounding chili sauce-tinged coconut milk. Decorating the bowl is a fuchsia banana blossoms, punctuating its exoticism....
Northern Virginia Magazine, 50 Best Restaurant, Stefanie Gans, November, 2015
...To ease into a more authentic experience, there's Elephant Jumps' version of pad see ew moo mug, here served with Chinese broccoli and a side of Thai long pepper slices floating in vinegar....Gang Hung Lay, a curry, reveals that distinct fruity sweet tang of tamarind,...
The Washingtonian, Eat Great Cheap 2015, June 2015
"Serious authentic Thai cooking"may sound like hyperbole, especially when it's printed on a sprawling menu, but...., and a full spectrum of flavors is represented between the two poles: spicy, sour, bright, earthy...papaya salad arrives with sticky rice and pork rinds...braised pork curry in tamarind-rich sauce....
The Washington Post, D.C's Essential Dishes of 2015, Lavanya Ramanathan, March 12, 2015
challenge to diners, in the form of the "authentic" menu. You are welcome to order from it, so long as you read through a few disclaimers about spice and substitutions. Still game? At Elephant Jumps, the "Serious Authentic Thai Cooking" menu lists a third papaya salad, a real-deal funky salad with shrimp paste that's rarely trotted out for American diners. Also unusual: a side of pork rinds. Mix it together and sop it up with the rice. It's unlike any papaya salad you've had before.
Northern Virginia Magazine, Noodles, January, 2015
Yes, there's a menu. But that's not how you should order your food, or so says my dining companion, the George Mason University economist and part-time food blogger, Tyler Cowen.....order pork noodle soup when available.
The Washington Post, Going Out Guide, $20 Diner, Tim Carman, May 29, 2014
I fear I'm making Elephant Jumps sound exotic in the extreme. Don't worry. For all its attempts to appeal to authenticity hounds, Elephant Jumps also understands its place in suburbia, where the term "Thai hot" is tantamount to a category 5 hurricane warning..
... ( mentioned ) Som Tum Ka Pi, Gang Hung Lay, Pad Prig Sod Moo, Pla Rah Song Kraerng..Roti GReen Curry, and Tilapia Ginger.
"Worth the trip from DC", this "bargain" Falls Church favorite offers "imaginative" Thai cuisine via a "creative" menu …. section for items "unseen elsewhere" (e.g. drunken spaghetti chicken); with a "friendly" owner who will "offer a detailed tour" of the options, and the whimsical if bare-bones decor, regulars "can't recommend it enough.
> The Washingtonian, Cheap Eats, August 2013
Thai Go beyond pad Thai with vibrant salads, crispy whole fish, zesty fried rice, and chili-laced cocounut curries. Adventurous Fried beef jerky with sriracha sauce at Elephant Jumps..
"Worth the trip from DC", this "bargain" Falls Church favorite offers "imaginative" Thai cuisine via a "creative" menu …. section for items "unseen elsewhere" (e.g. drunken spaghetti chicken); with a "friendly" owner who will "offer a detailed tour" of the options, and the whimsical if bare-bones decor, regulars "can't recommend it enough."
The Washington Post, 2012 Fall Dining Guide, Tom Sietsema, October 21, 2012
Ask for spicy at this mom-and-pop and spicy you shall receive: Tears streak my face when I spoon into a bowl of “Thai hot” seafood soup and encounter serious flames along with the scallops, squid and basil. The contrasts -- Sarah Brightman on the soundtrack.
The Washingtonian, Cheap Eats 2012, June 08 2012
One of the best salads we’ve had this year is on the menu at this tiny Thai place. A plate of watercress, fried to feathery lightness and doused in limey dressing, proves this isn’t your average pad Thai house. The rest of the menu offers more good things from the fryer: shrimp flat bread with cucumber sauce.
The Washington Post, 2011 Fall Dining Guide, Tom Sietsema, October 16, 2011
“Elephant Jumps presents good Thai and fusion cuisine backed by personality. The expected dishes all make an appearance, and most are pleasing. Like the food, the decor of this mom-and-pop reveals attention to the small stuff.”
The Washingtonian, Cheap Eats 2011, Best Dishes, September 2011
Take the crispy salmon, a moist filet encased in a crunchy shell and set on steamed jasmine rice (get it with a cup of sweet, zingy ginger sauce). Best Dishes Deep-fried bay scallops tossed with basil, scallions, and red peppers.
Fairfax Times, Mary Hager, May 06, 2011
Elephant Jumps produces memorable drunken noodles and a more than credible version of pad thai. The drunken spaghetti and burritos represent a handful of "East meets West" combinations on the menu, which also lists an assortment of classic Thai dishes, some of the chef's creations, and a few dishes rarely seen on local Thai menus, which together include enough unfamiliar dishes to pique both curiosity and taste buds: The crispy flat bread shrimp, a rectangle of fried flat bread topped with a smear of ground shrimp pairs well with its cucumber dipping sauce; The Thai spicy mushroom soup, a smooth brew spiced just enough to please even those who don't relish Thai heat; The Thai fresh roll, a skinny version of a Malaysian popiah, a steamed roll filled with tofu, egg, cucumber, Thai sausage and bean sprouts and served with a tamarind dipping sauce; The familiar spicy Thai papaya salad, joined by a version that features fried shredded papaya; And the golden pastry cup, a small fried pastry cup filled with a mix of minced chicken, onion, pea and carrot is a special treat not often found.
Northern Virginia Magazine, Warren Rojas, March, 2011
Fried watercress gives the usually mundane green a tempura makeover that wraps each leaf in puffy, fried batter. It looks like herbaceous funnel cake—though any dessert confusion should be quashed by the arresting, lime-chile dipping sauce that rides shotgun. The basil burger is a total misnomer, summoning instead shaved steak—smothered in fragrant herbs, minced hot peppers and whole basil leaves—nestled with a toasted croissant. The buttery canvass and zesty payload battle it out in my mouth, transmuting each bite into a tug of war between fire and fat. And I’m only too happy to get caught in the culinary crosshairs.
Lake Barcroft Newsletter, George McLennan and Debra M. Lee, October, 2010
Crispy tilapia with mango sauce (lightly breaded and fried tilapia served with ginger vinegar sauce, pepper, green mango sauce, red onion chili, lime juice and cilantro) The tilapia was tasty and moist and not at all oily or greasy. Sautéed shrimp in peanut sauce (with mixed vegetables). The peanut sauce ranked near the top of our charts. It was delicious by itself spread over rice. The shrimp was cooked very well, and was tender and moist. If we were to assign a grade to these dishes we would give them all an A. Mango sticky rice was among the best we’ve had. The mango was ripe and very flavorful. It was a perfect finish to a very nice meal.
The Washington Post, Tom Sietsema, August 29, 2010
Shredded papaya that's fried rather than raw. A thatch of the airy-crisp green fruit is presented with a dressing of fish sauce, crushed peanuts and lime (chunky with string beans and tomatoes), plus a few pearly fried shrimp on top. Elephant Jumps Salad is a signature in more ways than one, an edible bouquet arranged from matchsticks of apple, shrimp and a dusting of roasted coconut, fine as sawdust. Lime juice, red onion and fresh cilantro lend spunk to the beautiful appetizer. The shrimp "flatbread" deserves your attention, too. A paste of ground shrimp slicked with sesame oil is smeared on pieces of pita bread, then flash-fried to order. The snack, served in finger-length slices, is reminiscent of Chinese shrimp toast. A clear dip of vinegar, sugar and cucumber makes it more special. "East Meets West" includes drunken spaghetti chicken. Steamed dumplings stuffed with ground pork and shrimp arrive with frizzy caps of fried garlic and a sweet soy sauce for dipping. Fish choices include tilapia, cut into pieces and fried with Thai basil, onions and chilies. Glossy with garlic-and-chili sauce, every bite zips from heat to sweet in the mouth. The dish is very pleasing. Tender chicken and purple baby eggplant bob in a mild but nuanced green curry that's easy on the eyes and the tongue (and more interesting for the pancake-like roti framing the bowl).
Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide, August 2, 2010
The Green Curry Chicken Roti is especially good, as is the fried whole fish, soft shell crab in black pepper (when they have it), Elephant Jumps salad, Drunken Noodle, the specials, and the desserts are pretty good too.