Hong Kong restaurant in Harvard Square, site of the sure-to-be fabulous
kick-off party for BloggerCon, has a long and storied past as a dark
and private rock under which Harvard students can creep when they need
to disappear without leaving campus, as well as a bottomless bowl of
greasy faux-Chinese cuisine and high-octane, bizarrely garnished rum-based
30 years ago the Hong Kong was my hangout, and it hasn’t changed much since then. The dining area was downstairs and completely unknown to our crowd,
who either ordered take-out or, more often, retired to the bar at the
top of a narrow, smoky, multiply-twisted stairway lined with red velvet
and gold gilt. I remember that during my undergraduate days my regular
refreshment was something called a
which consisted of
of Rum mixed
and coconut milk and served in a seemingly real split coconut. I went
there often enough that I was considered a regular, and if Jimmy the
bartender was working my Smirk was on the bar before I had time to sit down.
The popular competitive drink, of course, was the Zombie. When the occasion
called for a macho drink-off, rounds of Zombies were ordered. The trick
was to drink fast, in which case you could get quite a few of the little
suckers down before the motor control began to fade. For the truly ambitious,
assaults on the legendary Scorpion Bowl Record were not unknown.
amazing piece of work was designed to be consumed by a MINIMUM of
adults, and featured chunks of suspiciously difficult to identify fruit
floating in a huge bowl of rum, clever ceramic miniature palm trees
and grass-skirted hula girls watching the action from around the rim,
and a small reservoir of 191 proof rum aflame with a cold blue chem-lab
glow in the cone of a tiny ceramic volcano in the middle of the rum pond.
finish one of them, I believe Howard Kaiser is the
speed freak, so he hardly counts.
I tended to avoid these juvenile drinking contests and usually sat quietly
at the bar with my Virago Smirk. At the time, I was working part-time
for the University, driving one of those cute red Harvard Shuttle Buses
on its appointed rounds around campus. Almost every night I would take
my "dinner break" at the Hong Kong, sucking down Virago Smirks and chatting
up Jimmy about the issues of the day. After three or four of the delicious
coconut drinks it was back out on the mean streets of Cambridge to finish
Of course, eventually I got busted. Maybe it was the 35-foot bright
red Harvard Shuttle Bus continually parked askew in 3 or 4 of the resident-only
spaces on Bow Street outside of the restaurant that gave me away. I responded
to my removal from the Shuttle Drivers Corps with a shrug. More time
to spend at the bar, I figured.
So Friday night should be full of memories for me, as I try to order
my first Virago Smirk in 25 years. I hope some of the other attendees
will stop me if, after a few of those delicious suckers, I try to drive
home in a Shuttle Bus.