By Jennifer 8. Lee | October 6, 2007
I went back to Harvard yesterday with my friend Chris and stepped into the Hong Kong Chinese restaurant and was shocked. They’ve renovated the venerable half-century old Hong Kong Chinese restaurant (which until now basically looked like something from Happy Days, vinyl booths, cracked linoleum and all) and made it look like Starbucks on the inside.
To be fair, the reason the Kong has been able to survive as a family-owned business for so long is that they bought the building a long time ago and became their own landlord. (The Chinese love real estate.)
I have many fond college memories of late nights (often involving the school paper) with scorpion bowls, “peking ravioli”and reading fortune cookies fortunes out loud while appending “in bed” to the end of them in large groups.
One of the charming things about the Kong was that it was so defiant in the face of gentrification in Harvard Square. It was like “this is who I am, take it or leave it.” It felt like a throwback to a different era — and though it, you felt a sense of connection to the generations of students who had passed through it. Not the old ivy white-shoe T.S. Eliot-generation but rather to students that were still alive.
Now it has the overhanging colored lamps, the weird modern equivalent of non-offensive floral prints (the desert palate with odd geometric shapes, you know what I am talking about. They will be so dated in like 10 years), and a flat screen television!
I was not the only one that was disconcerted. A large group of like 10 people walked in and were visibly upset. They were like “what happened?” And then they left.
I ordered a plate of Peking ravioli (“potstickers” or “guotie” or “fried dumplings”) to comfort myself.
The food has not changed. Scorpion bowls, peking ravioli and scallion pancakes.
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