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March, 2002: Busara

This of-the-moment Thai eatery manages to cross cutting-edge design and traditional Thai art in a fashion statement even House & Garden would approve of, with shades of electric blue and rosy orange plus model-friendly lighting. Food is eclectic, too, with avant-garde creations such as Shrimp Bikini, shrimp wrapped in spring-roll skins and deep-fried—as wow-inspiring as the swimsuit.

There are also Thai classics like larb gai, the zingy salad of minced chicken, chilies, and lime juice. Baby clams with basil and black-bean sauce is another winner, as is nua siam, seared marinated beef with pickled vegetables and ginger. Casseroles such as green curry with shrimp and asparagus, lamb curry with potatoes and green peas, and duck in red curry with pineapples are reliable. Noodle plates are less so: Pad Thai, the national noodle dish, is a too-sweet tomatoey mess. Redemption comes with dessert—rich creamy coconut custard that is arguably the best in the area—and the well-considered list of boutique beers.

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