You may by now have seen the video that's taken the Valley by storm: "The 413" by a rapper called Doc Westchesterson, who's somewhere between J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, an English professor (with pipe, no less), and a Beastie Boy.
In that video (which was nearing 150,000 views as of this writing), the good Doctor, decked out in impeccable brown and orange polyester, visits many a spot in the Valley. There is an undeniable gustatory bent to his wanderings—he hits a deli, a doughnut shop, and the Hu Ke Lau, among other food destinations. His is, apparently, hungry work.
The Advocate thought it wise to heed the Doctor's advice, so we recently mounted a lunch expedition to the Hu Ke Lau with Westchesterson himself, where, under his guidance, we experienced some of what makes his Valley great and inspires his rhymes.
It's worth noting that, in "The 413," the Doctor attacks what may be the largest grinder yet captured on film (from Pajer). Professorial though he may appear, he is a fearless and voracious eater.
His tendency to go big was quickly in evidence at our Hu Ke Lau lunch. With no hesitation, he made clear that his Scorpion Bowl order was a large. And "large," at the Hu Ke Lau, is very, very large indeed.
The drink goes beautifully with the Lau's tiki bar chic, an overwhelming ambiance of groovy light fixtures, bamboo everything, fish tanks and bright colors. Sure, you're in Chicopee, but sit in a booth labelled "Hawaii," and you may well experience an undeniable tingle of Pacific breeze.
A Scorpion Bowl consists of fruit juices, booze, umbrellas, and a central well of rum (which used to be lit on fire, a feature sadly curtailed for mere safety), all served in something that looks like a cross between a Hawaiian shirt and a ceramic sombrero. Dr. Westchesterson took to his like a man who's just stumbled upon a desert island stocked with ethanol in the middle of a brutal sea.
Soon, the table was filled with further impressive contrivances, most notably a Pu-Pu Platter holding a mountain range of battered-and-fried peaks. The plate's central pillar was a lit and glowing volcano that burned for quite some time. Such stuff is, it seems, what draws a man of singular appetites to dine in the midst of tropical glory.
Westchesterson, looking a bit glazed once the well-oiled tastes kicked in, waxed eloquent: "The batter to chicken ratio..." he paused to think... "is just perfect."
Hard to argue with expertise like his. And indeed, the pile of glistening meat on sticks and battered choices seemed to be the very ideal of a Pu-Pu Platter, one whose like could hardly be found at any lesser aspirant to tiki bar glory.
Even the non-battered and non-fried Buddhist Delight, one of the few vegetarian options, held nothing back. That plate gleamed with tofu and bright green vegetables. The baby corn seemed to have made it well past infancy, reaching as much as one-quarter the size of a full-grown corn. Hu Ke Lau doesn't do small, to their lasting credit.
It was clear that keeping up with Dr. Westchesterson was out of the question. His Scorpion Bowl was quickly drained of its sting. The Pu-Pu Platter's height diminished in mere minutes.
But the Doctor is no glutton, no mere reveler in out-sized food. He is a philosopher. Upon drawing an egg roll from the Pu-Pu pile, he explained the genesis of his love for that hefty treat.
"It's like a grenade," he explained. "First you pull the pin."
He bit the entire end off.
"Then you put the sauce in."
"Then you get a fireburst of pork shrapnel."
With that, he took a long slurp of Scorpion Bowl.