Last week I went to dinner with my new friend Shelly. Shelly just moved to Portland from the New Orleans area, and even though she’s a Saints fan, I’ve decided that all her other amazing qualities outweigh this one negative (Go Steelers!). She’s quickly hopping on the foodie bandwagon and when I suggested we meet at Green Elephant she exclaimed, “I love that place I have been dying to go back.” This coming from a gal who’s been here all of a month. She stole my heart there on the spot.
So we met at Green Elephant on a Tuesday, and it was surprisingly busy. I hadn’t been there in a while and there were some new offerings on the menu that I was excited to try. We started the evening some wine—Pinot Grigio for me, Pinot Noir for her. Shelly is a big wine connoisseur, which I have to admit was slightly intimidating. I am a beer girl and I can tell you all about beers around the world, but when it comes to wine I am as into a glass of two buck chuck from Trader Joe’s as I am into a bottle of Opus One. I know the kinds I like, but it pretty much stops there. I can tell that I can learn a lot from this little Southern Belle about being a wino.
I am neither vegan nor vegetarian, but that doesn’t matter. I think even the most carnivorous person in America could leave here feeling satisfied. The food is flavorful, and the tofu is very filling. After the wine ordering we sprung for some Green Leaves Wraps with Mango and Herbs. The “wrap” part is actually collard greens (how could two girls from the south resist?) and were uncooked (huh? Neither of us has experienced uncooked collards before). This appetizer was absolutely delicious and filled with cilantro and fresh julienned carrots. The tamarind sauce was not overly flavorful, but was necessary to wet the veggies, otherwise it was far too dry. Overall, this appetizer seemed lacking. I felt like I could make this at home, and while eating it I questioned if it would have been better wrapped in lettuce instead of collard greens…
Shelly opted for the Hot and Sour Noodle soup for her main course. It comes with rice noodles, bean sprouts, tofu, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, scallions, and cilantro all with fried wantons on top. Genius. She asked for it moderately spicy and I could tell from her cough after the first few bites that the heat was on! She said she really enjoyed it though.
I ordered the Char Guay Teow, which had the pronunciation printed on the menu and I still didn’t get it right. I’ll really have to brush up on my phonetic spelling/pronunciation skills before I go next time. It comes with wide rice noodles, egg (I didn’t go vegan), bean sprouts, scallion, red chili paste, tofu and this amazing soy ham. Seriously it was delicious, you could fool anyone! It was then topped off with shredded lettuce and cilantro. Overall it was a great dish and I find myself craving it now, which is what it’s all about for me—finding the next great obsession.
Each time I dine at Green Elephant I find even more reasons to return. Their food is inventive and packed with flavor, the prices are reasonable, and the ambiance is great. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone—from carnivore extraordinaire to vegan lettuce lovers there really is something for every appetite.