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floating market food bangkok cuisineGourmands will tell you that Bangkok offers a heavenly array of restaurants and bars, with something delectable in every price range. Thai cuisine is a spicy blend of flavors, based on lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, basil, garlic, onion, ginger, coriander, mint, chili peppers, curry and eggplant. Popular menu items include vegetarian or shrimp spring rolls; chicken, beef or pork satay skewers; pineapple fried rice; and Pad Thai, stir-fried noodles with eggs, tamarind, fish sauce, bean sprouts and red chili peppers, plus chicken, shrimp or tofu.

Liquor made in the area includes several varieties of beer, whiskey and rum. Be on the lookout for rice-based Mekong whiskey, Sang Som Thai rum and Chang Beer (a pale lager). For those who eschew alcoholic beverages, go for cha yen (a Thai version of iced tea). It's made by combining red tea leaves, star anise, sugar and evaporated milk. The creamy sweetness is the ideal complement to the spicy food you'll be eating.

Six Tips for Dining Abroad

Have you tried deep-fried banana flower or salted egg dip with shrimp? If not, head to Tongue Thai Restaurant, just around the corner from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Charoen Krung Road. You'll find traditional Thai dishes, such as pad Thai, green and yellow curries, spring rolls, and lemongrass soup. The chef prepares each dish to be a spicy treat. If you require a milder version, just ask. The waitstaff can also provide photo menus if you're new to Thai food.

Want to mix some serious shopping with an outstanding lunch? Head to the Jim Thompson Cafe at Japanese department store Isetan on Rajdamri Road. If you've got some picky eaters in your group, this is a good bet because it offers traditional Thai cuisine, Western dishes and sumptuous desserts.

For an upscale seafood buffet with a knockout river view through floor-to-ceiling windows, Lord Jim's at the Mandarin Oriental is the place. The emphasis is on seafood; you'll gorge yourself with scallops, tiger prawns, lobster, crab, mussels, clams, oysters and more.

Vegetarian travelers or those simply looking for healthy options will want to try the Bonita Cafe and Social Club on Pan Street, offering vegan and raw food dishes such as teriyaki lentil burgers and zucchini pasta. The friendly owners and cozy atmosphere are as memorable as the food.

Masala Art, located in the Thonglor Complex, earns raves as one of Bangkok's best Indian restaurants. The extensive menu includes dishes like rogani chicken tikka, lamb kebabs, fish curry and palak paneer.

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