Hot Spot

TASTEFUL LANGUAGE I'm wracking my brain for culinary superlatives as the moon-faced restaurateur eggs me on, plying me with cold beer. Mouthwatering? Lip-smacking? Succulent? Scrumptious? "Yes, yes," says Chai Uan-kum, proprietor of Chai Chuan Chin, scribbling furiously. "Very good." His is the newest establishment on Manting Lu Road, Jinghong's premier eat street, and I've been enlisted to help draft a sign in English that will lure peckish Westerners.

Chai's place serves up top-notch Dai food—dishes like beef fried with lemongrass, crispy dried sheets of riverweed and grilled snakehead fish with tamarind—as well as all the Thai standards. And...

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