Cheat Meal of the Week: The Smiling Elephant

Joe Doino

You know what I hate most about trying to lose weight?  Cardio.  It’s plain old terrible.  No one likes doing it.  Have you ever seen anyone jogging with a smile on their face?  No, you haven’t.  Because it’s miserable.  And if anyone tells you otherwise, they’re lying and trying to convince themselves it’s fun… like accounting.

I’ve got a wedding coming up, and I gotta fit into my dress shirts which feel a tad too snug for my taste.  So I’ve added fasted cardio in the morning to get that little extra jiggle the kickstart it needs to leave me alone.  I use those silly elliptical-ish things that have more range of motion on them.  I ramp up the resistance and do “high intensity interval training” aka sprint for a minute and then try to not die for another.  It sucks but it’s honestly working so I can’t knock it.  Luckily the Olympics are on so I have some motivation on the little TV to keep me going.

On to the fun stuff!  There’s a surprising amount of great Asian spots in Nashville.  I don’t know why that is, nor am I going to question it because they’re great.  You can’t ask about Thai food in Nashville without hearing about The Smiling Elephant.  It’s a significantly more traditional place and way less Americanized than your average Asian restaurant.  They’ve been voted best pad Thai, however many years in a row, so I decided to check them out.


Steamed Dumplings

Personally, my favorite Thai dishes are steamed dumplings and beef pad see-ew.

Steamed dumplings:  they came in a very generous portion, 10 to be exact and it’s like they knew I wanted to engorge myself with the self-control of that German kid who died in the Wonka factory.  They were fantastic.  They weren’t over steamed, filled with flavor and the dipping sauce and serious kick to it, which I loved.  It honestly caught me off guard a little and had to drink some water to prepare myself for the next ones.  I give them a solid 9/10.



Chicken Pad See-Ew

Pad see-ew:  I was a little disappointed from the start because they don’t serve beef.  I don’t know if that’s because that’s not a traditional Thai protein to be served or what.  I am a fairly ignorant American after all.  Either way, i’m always good with chicken so I get that.

The plate comes and I’m a caught off guard again.  The noodles are clear.  I can see right through them!  I’ve had pad see-ew at a few different Thai places, but I’ve never seen through the noodles.  I was a little nervous but they were great.  Again, they pride themselves on not being an Americanized Thai place.  The portion was huge and I could barely finish it, but I’m not the kind of guy to let that stop me.  There was also a surprising lack of sauce, which I was concerned about when I first laid eyes on it, but I honestly didn’t miss it.  There was plenty of flavor and everything was juicy.  The chicken was cooked perfectly and had a little kick, which was to be expected, so there was no coughing like a little bitch this time.  I really liked it but it wasn’t my favorite in town.  My favorite pad see ew with BEEF comes from either Siam Café in Woodbine on McCall street or Thai Esane on 12 South.  But hey, that’s just me.

If you find yourself in Nashville, don’t ever hesitate to try the Asian restaurants, they’re awesome.  The Smiling Elephant certainly holds up to its reputation, and I’ll gladly go back anytime.

Until next week!



I’m Joey, a New York drummer living in Nashville, playing with the band, Arc & Stones.

I LOVE FOOD! Right after college, I gained a lot of weight and hit a whopping 267 lbs. Terrified that I could hit 300 lbs before I hit 30 years, I decided to take control of the foods I was eating and started taking the fitness thing more seriously. I keep a very strict diet, making sure I hit my macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbs) each day. I hit the gym six days a week.

But once a week I cheat and treat myself. Food is one of my favorite things in life. This regime allows me to have my cheese-stuffed, deep-fried cake and eat it too. My column will focus on these indulgent treats.

About Joe Doino

Contributing Eater on AlphaLuxe web magazine View all posts by Joe Doino →

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