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Set sail to Southeast Asia with Green Elephant restaurant

New Loomis restaurant features unique Asian cuisine, and a cure for your sweet tooth
By: Joyia Emard Loomis News Editor
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Locals can take a taste tour of Southeast Asia at a new Loomis restaurant. The Green Elephant, on King Road, celebrates the foods of Burma, Thailand, India, Singapore and Malaysia. The restaurant is named for the green rainforests of the owner’s native country and for the elephants there that are prized as pets and workers. For restaurant owner Rachel Lim, the food is a tribute to her family heritage. Lim grew up in Rangoon, the capital of Burma, but her grandfather was from China and her grandmother was from Singapore. Lim said the dishes she serves at Green Elephant are family recipes she enjoyed as a child. She said they were not special occasion foods, but tasty fare she savored on an everyday basis. “It takes a lot of time to prepare, but it’s worth it. I try to do something unique,” Lim said of the food offered on her menu. Lim’s voice is lilting and sweet and she greets new and returning customers with warmth. She said she chose Loomis as the place to open her restaurant because “Loomis is a good town.” “This community is like a big family. Everyone has been very supportive,” she said. What many guests seem to appreciate is that, by request, the dishes can range from mild to wildly spicy. Lim’s boyfriend Moe Kyaw, who is Burmese, cooks up the food and also makes the sushi at Raleys. “Moe and I own the sushi franchise together. I made the sushi at Raleys for two years until I opened the restaurant,” Lim said. Chuck Aikins, of Loomis, frequents the restaurant and said, “I like the different tastes and the varieties.” His friend, Matt Schaedler, of Sacramento, braved Friday traffic just to drive out for dinner at the small hideaway. He said he toured Southeast Asia while serving in the Army and said the food at Green Elephant is better than any food he ate in those countries. “I’ve been all over the world, and the spice flavor, the presentation here is better. They are very friendly and accommodating,” Schaedler said. Many of the dishes at Green Elephant boast an exotic flavor from ingredients like curry, coconut milk, tamarind juice, lemon grass, ginger, lime, cilantro, chilis and star anise. Soups such as laksa, Thai rice and Tom-yan add Asian flair to the menu, while noodle dishes such as oyster, cee-chat, and mee-go-rang add hardiness. The menu also includes items like Thai crab fried rice and pork sparerib stew, along with vegetable dishes. Lim said she immigrated to the United States in 1985. “I came at age 19 with $60 in my pocket and a cook book,” Lim said. She said she landed in San Francisco and eventually opened a candy store in a mall. The Green Elephant also has a separate candy and gift store attached to it. Lim’s brother, Richard, runs the shop that features dozens of old-fashioned types of candy, plus decadent cupcake-size peanut butter cups, a variety of truffles, chocolate covered “honeycomb,” and numerous other chocolate delights. Seasonal candies, dried fruit, gifts and stuffed animals are also available in the colorful shop. Lim said guests can dine in or can call in, or come in for takeout orders. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and is located at 5911 King Rd. For more information, call 652-6325. GREEN ELEPHANT RESTAURANT What: Southeast Asian food and candy shop, dine-in or takeout Who: Owner Rachel Lim Where: 5911 King Rd. Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Saturday Prices: Modest, from $6.75 to $7.75 per dish Information: 652-6325