We've got a Nashville dining empire on our hands. The Smiling Elephant's owner, Thailand-native Sam Kopsombut is the brother of Patti Myint (of the long-beloved International Market) and the uncle of chef-about-town Arnold Myint (as seen on Top Chef
!) of the slick, Asian-inspired eateries PM, Cha Chah and Suzy Wong's House of Yum. His charming bungalow off Eighth Avenue among antique shops, thrift stores and auto-repair related businesses doesn't skimp on the spice. Diners can choose their preferred level of heat, be it mild, hot and Thai Spicy - not an idle threat, but it's well-balanced flavor and endorphin-inducing deliciousness. All the classics are accounted for, such as pad thai, fried rice and an excellent rendition of pad kee mao with delicate, clear bean noodles, kaffir lime leaves, egg and plenty of heat. The Smiling Elephant really shines, though, with rotating daily specials and inventive entrées. Upon entering, be sure and check the display case in front of the open kitchen for the fresh roll of the day and other snack-like treats. It's hard to go wrong with the "Daily Curry," a rotating cast of complex curries that go well beyond the basic red and green varieties. Bold, authentic flavors, beautifully presented plates and a cozy atmosphere look to make The Smiling Elephant a Melrose fixture.