A taste for the tropics?
Babalu, 1002 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (213) 395-2500. Style: Tropics for the terribly trendy. Setting: A Bette Midler dream. Recommended dishes: Indonesian chicken satay; chicken with chutney; key lime pie. Cost per person: $15-$25.
Kebaya Court, Hollywood Palm Hotel, 2005 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 850-5811. Style: L.A.'s Singapore outpost. Setting: Batiks, antiques. Recommended dishes: Satay with peanut sauce; pomfret with turmeric and ginger relish. Cost per person: $10-$20.
Kuala Lumpur, 133 Martin Alley, Pasadena. (818) 577-5175. Style: A taste of Malaysia. Setting: Spare, white, artsy. Recommended dishes: Rojak (fruit salad); mein (soft noodles); selangor (chicken with peanut sauce). Cost per person: $15-$25.
Paradise Beach Club, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Century City. (213) 203-0841. Style: California/Polynesian serving up tropical madness. Setting: Lively bar; big screen TVs; little-finned fish. Recommended dishes: Char siu pork burger; tropical quesadilla and a nice big Maui Chi Chi to live through this eating experience. Cost per person: $12-$25.
Pho So I, 7231 Reseda Blvd., Reseda. (818) 996-6515. Style: Vietnamese noodle shop. Setting: No frills storefront dining. Recommended dishes: Pho dac biet (beef noodle soup); bun thit (noodle salad); bo bay mon (seven-course all-beef dinner). Cost per person: $3-$10.