Adam Erace at Hop Sing Laundromat

Adam Erace had held out longer than most. Turned off by Hop Sing Laundromat’s hype and its proprietor’s self-deprecation, Erace at avoided Lee’s Chinatown cocktail bar. But for a first review of 2013, the bar beckoned. And although identified, City Paper’s reviewer tells his tale.

The off-menu tequila Old Fashioned was mostly booze but, paradoxically, not boozy. When the fire vanished from its tableside-flamed orange peel, it revealed a smooth tango of mezcal and reposado, smoke and oak set to plainspoken Angostura, agave and a spray of essential citrus oils. I sought that balance in the Triple A special, but there wasn’t enough fresh-pressed green apple juice to combat the lethal doses of applejack and absinthe.

“I know you didn’t like the Triple A,” Lee whispered when he set down the check, “so I took it off the bill.” I’d given no indication I hadn’t liked it. I’d even drunk most of it. Is Lee psychic or just a very keen observer?

The Truth About Czar Lee [City Paper]
Hop Sing Laundromat [Official Site]

Photo by Neal Santos

The Revisit: Hop Sing Laundromat

So, three guys walk into a bar…

Wait, let me start over.

A homicidal maniac, an Al-Qaeda torture specialist, and a Foobooz commenter walk into Hop Sing Laundromat. After surrendering their photo IDs for inspection at the door, they are seated in an anteroom—on a church pew opposite an unmanned shoeshine stand.

The insane murderer gazes around at an antiquarian’s fantasia of leather-bound books—shelf upon shelf going right up to what must be a 15-foot ceiling—and feels a novel sensation. By the dumb luck of having tucked his collared shirt into the Dolce and Gabbana pants of his latest victim, he has passed the bar’s not-exactly-restrictive dress code. For the first time in his life he feels validated. The light is low. A faint scent of citrus oil wafts through the air. The proprietor was only play-acting when checking IDs, so the smears of dried blood on his had gone unremarked. And by the time he’s given an Old Fashioned chilled by a doorknob-sized hunk of ice (without even being asked for a credit card to start a tab), he has made an iron pact with God never to kill again.

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The Hop Sing Laundromat Dress Code

Illustration via Wikipedia

One of the most searched for terms on Foobooz over the last month has been “Hop Sing dress code.” And it seems like more people should be searching for it as Lêe from Hop Sing Laundromat says he turns away 30+ people a night because they don’t meet the Chinatown bar’s dress code. Here is an illustrated look at what will get you in and what will have you wondering if there are any other spots worth drinking at in Chinatown.

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Hop Sing Moves to Regular Hours

At Hop Sing Laundromat nothing is ever…simple. Not the space, not the rules or dress code, not the run-up to the opening, not the cocktails and certainly not the schedule. After months of will-he/won’t-he dithering about the opening date, one-name-wonder Lêe finally opened the cocktail bar to breathless fanfare (and plenty of grumbling) on May 25, but even then it was a kind of preview opening–with cheap drinks, sure (every cocktail in the house, $10 flat), but only an extended-weekend schedule on Thursday, Friday and Saturday services.

Well now that’s all going to change.

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A Zagat Guide To Philly’s Secret Bars

Hop Sing Laundromat (as it looks today) retains an air of secrecy

Danya Henninger knows a thing or two about bars. And about drinking at bars. And about where to go when drinking at a bar is exactly what you need. As editor of The Drink Nation and Philly editor for, she gets to write a lot about her favorite subject (booze), and a couple days ago she put together a very nice list of Philly’s “secret” bars.

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Behind the Scenes of Lee and Hop Sing

Brian Freedman visits with Hop Sing Laundromat’s Lêe and finds out more about the man and his bar than even Freedman expected.

As for the drinks themselves—I’ve tasted maybe a dozen and a half of them, both as part of our interview as well as as a customer—Hop Sing’s are remarkably well-balanced and complex, and often succeed in unexpected, or at least too-rarely-seen, ways. With his sixth sense for flavor and balance, and with senior bartender Robert Fuentevilla on the team, the reality of Hop Sing hasn’t just met the pre-opening buzz—it has well exceeded it.

Behind the Scenes With Chinatown’s Long-Anticipated Hop Sing Laundromat [Philadelphia Weekly]
Hop Sing Laundromat [Official Site]

Photo of The “Failed Entertainment” |  Felicia Perretti

This Weekend’s Cocktail List at Hop Sing Laundromat

We’re entering the third weekend of Hop Sing Laundromat being open to anyone who comes up to the unmarked storefront at 1029 Race Street (Well anyone who follows these rules and is dressed appropriately at least).

It is also the first weekend that the Chinatown bar will have a printed cocktail menu. The list has twelve drinks broken down by primary spirit. The descriptions are interesting to say the least, most with a tie to American history, and one referring to a certain restaurant critic. For cocktails we’ve tried and remember, our notes are in italic.

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Hop Sing Laundromat Is Opening Tonight (For Real This Time)

Okay, first the big, important news for those of you who’ve been following this saga for the past year: Hop Sing Laundromat will be opening tonight. Honest. Not for a private party. Not for some kind of tasting party. But actually opening and actually serving drinks to the good people of Philadelphia. Show up, bring money, buy drinks, repeat–just like a real bar.

But there are, of course, some complications…

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So There’s This Letter on Hop Sing’s Web Site …

Lêe from Hop Sing Laundromat just let us know he posted a letter on the Chinatown bar’s web site. We don’t think it’s a Dear John letter to the city of Philadelphia, but at this point, who knows. Here’s a piece of it.

The amount of coverage came as a surprise to us, but that is what the press does to new events, items and places of interest as late American author David Foster Wallace once wrote, “it did what all ads are supposed to do: create an anxiety relievable by purchase,” except we did not intend to advertise our establishment. After al, this is a just a simple bar …

Really though, you’ve got to check out the whole thing for yourself at Hop Sing’s web site.

Hop Sing Laundromat [Official Site]

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