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Brand Publishing Travel+ Summer Series

Asian and tropical retreats offer limitless culinary variety for couples

Exotic flavors in exotic locales equals love at first bite — be it sky-high cocktails in Bangkok, palate artistry in Tokyo or dinner on a South Sea island.

Bangkok

Reach for the stars at Vertigo, perched atop a narrow 61st-story rooftop. Thrill to the skyscraper's shadow stretching across the city far below. It's easy to envision James Bond helicoptering in for a martini and the Vertigo Appetizer Plate — bay scallops, seared foie gras, tuna tartare, lobster spring rolls and Caesar salad. Back on the ground, discover local favorites in Chinatown's bustling night market. Take a private cruise on the Chao Phraya River to the Amita Thai Cooking Class in an historic waterfront home. Enjoy the fruits of your labor — perhaps green curry chicken in coconut milk — on the veranda overlooking the water.

Tokyo

Cozy up to a Japanese feast in one of only 18 seats at RyuGin. The multicourse Kaiseki menu uses delicate seasonal delicacies — fresh bonito topped with dashi broth or grilled firefly squids — to stimulate all your senses and push the boundaries of tradition. Dine in a private tatami room or snag the coveted counter seats to chat with the chef/owner at Koju. High-quality ingredients — think tilefish from Tokushima — are key, as are the traditional techniques used to prepare this Kaiseki feast. Drink in the magnificent skyline at the Ekki Bar and Grill on the seventh floor of the Four Seasons Marunouchi accompanied by famed regional Kobe and Sendai beef. Discover plates for two at Sushi Saito.

Kyoto

Walk down a cobbled lane to romance at Ishibekoji Kamikura, where 1,200 years of history come together for the best of intricately designed and presented Kyo-ryori (Kyoto's traditional cuisine, originally prepared for the Emperor). Each course is a work of visual and flavorful art, using the freshest local produce and presented in a seasonal context.

Vietnam

Combining the sophistication of French classic cooking with delicious local flavors, Vietnamese cuisine is not to be missed. In Ho Chi Minh City, discover a tucked-away Ru Pho Bar to sample the signature dish as well as other traditional and creative uses of the venerable rice noodle. In Hanoi, take a moment to dine together at Cha Ca La Vong for the dish of the same name — chunks of fresh catfish sautéed tableside with piquant spices and a healthy addition of fish sauce.

Fiji

Embrace nature and each other with a candlelit dinner next to a jungle waterfall at Namale Resort & Spa. Customize your menu with Fijian classics like fresh-caught fish with coconut baked in taro leaves and Indo-Fijian curries, or international cuisine such as beef marinated in locally grown garlic, lemon grass and ginger. Be sure to sample kava, Fiji's national drink made from a powdered root.

-By Barbara Beckley, Brand Publishing Writer

For more great summer travel options, go to latimes.com/summertravelseries.

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