Asia Mini

LUXE City Guides, a smarty-pants series of pocket dossiers on Asian cities, identifies hot spots, dives and dens of conspicuous consumption in a glib, dishy patter that leaves decorum to the Michelin crowd. Consider the Met Bar in Bangkok, which features "juicy, dark décor and fruity sounds" but is "harder to get in than a nun's knicks."

Launched nearly two years ago by Bristol, England, native Grant Thatcher, a former voice-over artist who calls Hong Kong home, the $7.50 foldouts cover Bangkok, Thailand; Hong Kong; Singapore; Bali; Tokyo; Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City; with Sydney, Australia; Sri Lanka; and Shanghai to follow. Thatcher's cadre of unpaid "style contributors" provides the skinny. Then, "I edit and place the saucy spin on it." Saucy is right. On the "LUXE Loves" and "LUXE Loathes" lists, for instance, Temple St. Market in Hong Kong is "everything you never wanted in one rancid place."

"It's all about having fun," Thatcher says, "because life's too short."

LUXE City Guides, at Traveler's Bookcase, 8375 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 655-0575.

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