Funny, they didn't look Irish -- Mo Marumoto, the host, and such assorted old sons of the auld sod as Ron Ziegler, Fred Malek and George Wakiji, not to mention such daughters as Anna Chennault and Karna Small.

But they were for the night, at least, as St. Patrick's Day guests in the McLean home of Marumoto, an executive recruiter, investerate collector of people and a special assistant to former president Richard Nixon.

There was an odd shamrock in an unprotesting lapel. Jean Marumoto, the hostess, sported a button which insisted to all unbelieving eyes that "Today I'm Irish."

"We're Japanese, we're having a St. Patrick's Day party and we're serving Chinese food," she said.

What could be more logical, faith and begorra?

"I tell people I'm going to a Japanese St. Patrick's Day party, and they think I've been drinking before I've even gotten there," protested John Donnelly, director of public information for the U.S. Metric Board and one of the few guests whose forebears really did come from the Emerald Isle.

And if nobody was falling down drunk, well, as Jim Benton, an executive recruiter, pointed out: "How can you fall down when you're in a Japanese home and already sitting on the floor?"

Paddy (as he might well be called) Marumoto has long gotten into the spirit (figuratively speaking) by attaching his annual St. Patrick's invitations to 100 or so of his friends with such Irish mementoes as small cans of (this year) monosodium glutamate. Or (in past years) soy sauce, fortune cookies and chopsticks.

It was enough to make any guest there ask: Who threw the overalls in Mrs. Murphy's sukiyaki?