Going back a few months during Restaurant Week, a friend of mine had made a reservation for five at The Elephant Walk. Being one of the food lovers that he knows, I was invited. But, because I had already made plans, I could not go. Extremely sad, I was determined to go try the Cambodian French restaurant sometime.
That sometime came months later, when a friend came to visit. Three friends from back home and I decided to catch up and eat some good food, and I suggested The Elephant Walk, not only because I wanted to try it, but also because my friends live close to the restaurant.
The restaurant is in the middle of nowhere (well, to me, that is). There is not much around, so one would have to go out of his way to come here (that is, if you live outside the city – my friend just had to walk ten minutes from her apartment).
Although a bit humid, the day was beautiful, so I asked for a table near the windows. Three sides of this space were lined with windows with a street view – great for people watching.
The inner dining space is warmer, with hanging lights and yellow walls. I wouldn’t have minded sitting there either, but I liked our table location. Okay fine, I admit, I wanted natural light for the photos I was going to take, and that’s why I preferred the tables next to the windows.
The menu is simple but cute, with a golden elephant on the cover. There are traditional Cambodian, traditional French, and fusion dishes, and every item is explained well. I had a little trouble pronouncing the words, though! I wish I spoke French and Cambodian, but I don’t, so I just read off parts of the English descriptions and pointed like a little kid.
Three of the four of us decided to go with the pre-fixe menu. You can choose either the three-course or the four-course, with prices $29.95 and $33.95 respectively. I went with the four-course (surprise, surprise).
The bread was pretty average, nothing spectacular – the crust was a little tough, although I did like the crunch when I bit into it. We were all pretty hungry, so we munched on the bread without much complaint.
For my first course, I ordered Nataing, a soupy coconut milk dish with ground pork, served with crispy rice. This was my favorite dish of the whole course. The broth was sweet and salty, with a little kick. It tasted delicious with the pork and the crispy rice, which was like unsweetened rice crispies. That doesn’t sound too appetizing, but believe me, it was a great addition textually. Although the portion was rather large, I emptied the bowl and finished every grain of the crispy, puffed rice. I’m actually craving it as I write!
My friends all ordered the Rouleaux, Cambodian spring rolls filled with ground pork, crushed peanuts, noodles, and vegetables. The waiter advised them to wrap the greens and herbs around the spring rolls and eat them together, and they said that it tasted better when doing as told. I didn’t try it, but it was obvious that they were all in love with the spring rolls; when there’s silence on the table and everyone’s focused on the food, it’s always a good sign, right?
After the delicious Nataing, I was disappointed with my the Chilled Avocado Soup. It was refreshing after the pork dish, but it was more like a watery guacamole than anything. There was too much lime, which burned my throat. I can take acid, but this was too much; I ate less than half, and put the spoon down.
A friend ordered the Leah Chah, Prince Edward Island mussels sautéed with Asian basil, jalapeno, garlic, scallion, and red bell pepper. I tried one, and I have to say, it was very tasty. I couldn’t help but compare his choice with mine and glimpse at the mussels the whole time he was eating them.
My third course was also a winner. Although it was my first time trying Loc Lac, caramelized cubed beef tenderloin over lettuce, it tasted very familiar because it resembled the Korean barbeque kalbi a lot.
The friend who sat next to me ordered the Curry de Crevettes, a curry dish with shrimp, asparagus, bok choy, and other vegetables. It was too sweet for my taste for curries, but my friend kept muttering “Oh my gosh, this is so good.” She was sad that she had to take half of it to go for her boyfriend, as promised.
Another friend of mine ordered the pan-seared Atlantic salmon dish that came with a bed of spinach in a creamy red wine and garlic-lemon sauce. She loved, loved, loved this it. She was so into her entrée that when she was almost done with it, she exclaimed “oh!”
When asked what was wrong, she said she didn’t offer us to try her dish because she was enjoying so much, and apologized. We just laughed, and tried a bite each when she insisted that we did. It was, indeed, good, but there was this slight after taste from the cream sauce that bothered me.
My friends who had come to The Elephant Walk prior to my visit had insisted that I order the Passion Fruit Mousse for dessert, so I did. And I was so glad that I did!
The mousse was super rich, overflowing with the fruitiness from the passion fruit. It was creamy, but maintained the tart and refreshing qualities of the fruit. The bowl underneath was interesting – I think it was a shell made out of pepper jack cheese. It was a great end to the meal.
A friend ordered the chocolate truffle cake that came with raspberry sauce. It lacked depth and the luscious richness from the chocolate, so I wasn’t a huge fan – I dug right back into my mousse after having a bite.
Great meal with great people. What more can one ask for? It was all of our first time trying Cambodian (or some sort of Cambodian-influenced) food, so it was fun trying it out. The food was somehow comforting, and started off the rest of the evening well. Although it probably won’t be my to-go place, The Elephant Walk is definitely a restaurant worth trying.
2067 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140