From jars of fermented shrimp paste and yellow bean sauce, to soft cakes of palm sugar and plastic-wrapped trays of frozen kaffir lime leaves, the fragrance and funk of authentic Thai food is on exhaustive display at Bangkok Market. Devoid of decor, cute displays and free samples, this grocery store is unburdened by any semblance of a shopping “atmosphere.” There is only the rattle of a battered cart for which you spent six minutes searching, a rainbow of jarred and canned curry pastes, a solid 12-foot expanse of eye-high shelving bristling with bundled nests of rice and wheat noodles, and the opportunity to tackle serious recipes with the right ingredients, instead of whatever petrified possibilities you might unearth from the “Asian” aisle of a Whole Foods. The store is small yet complete. Whole, fresh-looking fish on beds of ice. Organ meats behind the butcher-counter glass. Stocked with lemongrass-spiked sausages, ready-to-crisp paratha and a bizarre soy creation molded in the shape of a small, very skinny whole chicken, the frozen section alone is worth a visit. 4757 Melrose Ave., Wilshire Center. (323) 662-9705.

—Andrew Simmons

LA Weekly