The China Pearl is a restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown known for its dim sum and dour waitstaff. And… that’s about all I can say, because Yelp’s reviewers are in agreement on these points and because its website might as well not exist. Restaurant websites are notorious for their poor design, but I promise this one’s Geocities-esque feng shui is something to behold.
This particular restaurant makes a single appearance as a minor landmark in the garbled narration of Emil “yrstruly” Minty, last seen in this series departing the “Bow&Arrow” having mugged Burt F. Smith—leaving him in “no condition to eat cheese”—and looking to score heroin on a cold “Xmas Eve” night.
We pick up the story with Minty, Bobby C and Poor Tony Krause as they make their way from Cambridge’s Harvard Square to Boston’s Chinatown. Specifically, they “Redline down to Chinatown” to see Dr. Wo at Hung Toys Cold Tea Emporium. Although Poor Tony strongly suggests another option, for reasons not given, it is agreed that Wo has the better quality dope and “C is not 2Bdenied.”
I might have preferred to write about Hung Toys (once, “Hung Toy’s”) but, as you might have guessed, there is not one. Its location is therefore impossible to pin down, however my best guess is it would be either on Tyler where the China Pearl is located, or else Beach or Kneeland which bookend it. (As suggested by readers, there is a good chance the name was inspired by Ho Toy Noodle Co., Inc. on Oxford Street.) Anyway, if there was a place called Hung Toys in Boston, I suspect it would be at least as well known as the lurid signage of the Mayflower Poultry Company.
When C’s crew arrives in Chinatown, Poor Tony agrees to wait some distance away from Hung Toys while Minty and C go inside. Wo regards them suspiciously, but they are on the verge of becoming “dopesick” and he is willing to take their “$.” At last they exit Hung Toys with the “skeet” they came for. And here we’ll finally close the loop on the unlikely “lightpoal” we discussed in conjunction with Cheap-O Records:
I admit it yrstruly wanted we should burn Poor Tony and rickytick the fuck out of China town but we go over down more by the China Pearl Place and Poor Tony is sortof hunched behind a lightpoal…
The superfluous third capitalized noun perhaps stands in for “Palace,” which is not part of the real restaurant’s name, but if so it’s a misnomer that is by now entirely explicable, considering it comes from the same narrator who gave us “Harvard Squar.”
There are two possible “lightpoals” outside the China Pearl entrance and, in retrospect, I think the one I did not photograph is the more likely candidate. Minty observes that Poor Tony is “trying to be low profile” and yet surrounded by “subservants of Wo”; the other pole is right next to a parking lot, which seems a more plausible loitering spot for small-time crooks, let alone the “million +” in Minty’s exaggeration.
In my defense, I was racing from location to location at this point, and had only a few moments to get a decent shot of the China Pearl, which I’m not claiming this is.
I’d leapt out of my taxi at Tyler and Kneeland and, complicating matters, I sustained a minor injury while crossing the street. Upon arriving safely on the north side of Tyler, I misjudged the portion of my foot necessary to gain a “foothold” on the curb, so I tried to lift my leg with toes on the curb pointed up and heel remaining planted in the gutter and oh, let me tell you, that is painful. I hobbled up the street, camera attached to monopod, also sort of hunched over and trying to look inconspicuous, and since no one in the photo above is looking at me, at least I did better than Poor Tony.