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Another Portland Blog

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

 

Hung Far Low no more




It seems like every month another iconic Portland business shuts its doors. Next on the chopping block is the city's best named bar, Hung Far Low. Johnathan Nicholas reports:


"The Lowdown on Hung Far

Portland's oldest Chinese restaurant, Hung Far Low, will close at the end of July. Yes, that means farewell to the Temple Room lounge, aka the Buddha Bar, where everyone from Jack Benny to Keanu Reeves sought solace. And found gin.

Neil Chan and his family hopes to reopen this fall, likely somewhere on 82nd Avenue. Best news of all: There's talk of an effort to save that classic marquee, maybe even restore its legendary neon."


"Best news" might not be the best choice of words, Mr. Nicholas. While Hung Far Low may relocate, its iconic stairwell and gritty mafia movie-style atmosphere will most likely stay put.

There's a million anecdotes or at least a half dozen anecdotes I could roll out here. There was the night a friend spotted Rasheed Wallace sitting at the bar. During a recent midnight trip I found a crowded table full of bored teens in prom attire (talk about your lost photo opps). It was the first bar threshold I crossed in Portland. Then there was the ancient bartender that once worked in the Temple Room. Here's a description from a photo gallery I put together a while back:


"[He was] a man that resembled a mole, had a voice like gravel on a 110 degree day and looked as if his skin hadn't touched sunlight since 1974. 'I need 'dooh IDs, 'dooh,' he would rasp when we entered. Then he would stare at them under a tiny desk lamp and finally serve us gin & gins."


I'm going miss that place. The sign too. That block on 4th Avenue is going to experience a lot less giggling fits from passing clubhoppers come July.

And what could possibly be the reason for the closure? Could it be the creeping menace that is the Pearl District? OK, I'm making assumptions. Maybe the family that owns the place has simply decided to move on. But is it any doubt Hung Far Low, and/or the building that houses it, will quickly be replaced with another condo tower, drab art gallery and/or martini bar?

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