How I ended up at Chopstix is a long story involving someone who purportedly gets paid to have good judgment. Having passed up fugu, the sushi that can be fatal, at Shiki Japanese Restaurant, this person then inexplicably advocated visiting the dueling piano bar a block away—surely a fate worse than death.

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"You go, you go alone," I said, a stance bound to crumple in the face of curiosity, thirst, and the perverse hope that dwells at the heart of all cynicism.

I thought Chopstix had closed. It's the kind of place you hear about—a crazy bar on lower Queen Anne! With two live piano players! Playing at once!—that no one ever actually goes to. Chopstix is very much open, and people are very much there.

Last Thursday night, the bipartite onslaught of entertainment awaiting required no cover charge, only proper identification. While I don't wish to impugn the doorman's job performance, the median age inside looked to be approximately 19; the place was packed with the type of fresh-scrubbed youth who look like they play team sports then drink until they vomit. This was not your usual lower–Queen Anne bar crowd, yet from whence they came would remain forever a mystery.

Chopstix is unpretentious: red walls, black ceiling, disco ball, giant airbrushed depictions of Elton John, Billy Joel, Ray Charles, and, possibly, Jerry Lee Lewis. On a central stage, two grand pianos nest in a sort of monochrome yin-yang arrangement. Two pianos are several billion times louder than one; the tickling of the ivories was deafening. My wish for my whiskey to be administered via IV went unheard.

The dueling aspect of the performance proved elusive as the pianists alternately dispatched crowd requests ranging from Journey to Tommy Tutone's classic "Jenny" ("I got your number from the Chopstix wall"). One took responsibility for goading the crowd to higher bribery for songs ("Ten dollars owns the room!"), while the other looked bored and counted his tips. The crowd's appreciation suggested an unseen force at work; the clapping and singing along was fervent. I was exhorted from the stage to enjoy $3 drinks, it being ladies' night; moreover, a handsome waiter appeared at my side, offering a metal bin of candy. I found myself eating a gummy Coke bottle as if controlled by the aforementioned unseen force. It did not taste good, and the texture was not pleasing, yet I chewed.

Inevitably, it was someone's birthday. This lady, giggling and blushing uncontrollably, was boosted atop the piano conglomeration as the Goader inquired of her table rhetorically, "How nasty can we get with your friend?" No audible answer being forthcoming, "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" was offered by way of a welcome into her next year. This rendition included some unorthodox lyrics: "She'll be riding 13 inches when she comes," "Her face'll be a beamin' 'cause me and Eric are double-teamin'," et cetera. The crowd went wild. recommended

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Chopstix is located at 11 Roy St, 270-4444.

bethany@thestranger.com