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Hop Sing Laundromat - recent reports?

Has anyone been recently? My wife and I were there about a month and a half ago for some pre-dinner cocktails 6-6:30ish, and while I like the concept and the drinks were good, I was somewhat surprised and disappointed that for the most part the place was empty - given all the hype seen on various foodie blogs, etc. One other couple was there during our first round, but left shortly thereafter and the place was all ours.

So... despite the atmosphere, the lack of people kind of killed the "vibe" a bit. And our goal for that outing was somewhat to forget we had a toddler at home and pretend we were still young and hip/cool ;). Have another opportunity for a "date night" coming up and would like to give it another try, but since such opportunities are few and far between, wondering if we should try somewhere else instead... Was our experience a fluke, or just because we were there too early?

Thanks!

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  1. In general you were there early. Like vampires, young hip and cool only come out after dark ;-)

    1. I usually go there for pre- or post-dinner drinks and very rarely have seen it as empty as you describe, usually because it's a holiday or something else is going on. Around 6:30 I usually see at least 4 other parties there, around 9 - 9:30 there's a bigger crowd but still seats available. One time I left there around 11 and it was full with a line outside, I don't want to wait in line so I never go after 11.

      So I'd say your experience was a bit of a fluke, but if you want to go when there's a bit of a crowd, go after dinner rather than before. I'd certainly choose it over the Franklin.

      1. I was here last September at 12:30 am on a Sunday morning, or Saturday night, if you prefer. Anyways, much to my surprise, the place was maybe half full at best. The drinks, however, were quite excellent. I was on my way back home from a wedding in Chadds Ford and wanted to check this place out and being that I live in NJ, only had one drink. I asked for suggestions for something that was refreshing and also for a drink which wasn't overpowered by the alcohol. They suggested the "Henry 'Box' Browne" which was made of 15 year old aged rum and fresh squeezed grape juice. I'd never had fresh squeezed grape juice, but the drink was a real winner. It was really perfect and Lee came up to me after a few sips to ask how it was.

        I'm not sure if prices have gone up since September 2012, but at that time, drinks were only $10 - a real bargain. I don't mind places that aren't packed tho because I like to enjoy the atmosphere as well.

        I'm sure the rest of the drinks are good too, but one thing I did note about the menu was that while some drinks are unique, others are recycled speakeasy fare, such as the Hemingway Martini. Compared to the Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company, Hop Sing has a more intimate feel, tho Franklin does have a better selection of drinks. Hop Sing and Frankling Mortgage are both definitely better than Ranstead Room.

        2 Replies
        1. re: willscarlett

          Hop Sing has changed a lot since then, the drinks are now at least $12 each (most are $12) but some are $14 or $15. The drink menu is also a lot bigger now than it was then. The Henry "Box" Brown is still there, thankfully.

          1. re: Buckethead

            They do have happy hour prices now as well ("Washy Washy Hour in Lee-speak).

            I always go early to avoid the vampires.

        2. Last Friday I went around 7:30 and it was very quiet - about 4 tables filled up. I don't think I would have minded the quiet atmosphere so much had I not had to endure the whole rigmarole to get in - it felt particularly like a desperate gimmick.

          Drinks are now $12, with specials $14.

          5 Replies
          1. re: lowereastrittenhouse

            Does Lee still answer the door and ask you what you're doing there, how you found out about the place, if you're aware that they're cash only? Then, did he still make you wait in that vestibule with a explain the rules and whatnot before escorting you inside?

            1. re: willscarlett

              There is a new employee/bouncer/host but yes the process is the same.

            2. re: lowereastrittenhouse

              Thats my issue with the place- the gimmick. The drinks are good enough to speak for themselves, no need for the gimmick.

              1. re: lowereastrittenhouse

                The place would probably be more full if they let sneakers in.

                1. re: barryg

                  The first time I tried to get in there, it was last July on a Sunday and I was denied because of my sneakers, which I only wore because we'd been walking around Philly for most of the afternoon. Lee was nice enough about it tho and told me there was some Chinese shop around the corner where I could buy these Bruce Lee style shoes for $5, but I couldn't find the shop and I wasn't buying footwear just to go there.

                  My girlfriend then asked if her footwear was ok and Lee said that he would never tell a woman how to dress.

                  It was all good tho - we ended up going to the Ranstead Room and Franking Mortgage and had a fun evening.

              2. We always enjoy our visits to Hop Sing and I would suggest you give it another try. If after one drink if it is still not to your liking you will be fueled up to travel to another location; perhaps Franklin Mortgage or the Ranstead Room or one of the less formal Philadelphia purveyors of spirits. Some suggestions for busy, young might include Tria and Amada.

                1. Why did they name it after a Chinese triad organization? Because it is cool?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I believe it is named after a character on the TV Western, "Bonanza", or perhaps the 1800's play mentioned below. Lee has a predilection for obscure references to Americana.

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hop_Sing

                    Love it or hate it. I love it.

                    1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                      I noticed that possible reference the TV character too. However, it could actually refer to the infamous SF Chinatown organization: Hop Sing Tong. The enforcement members: Hop Sing Boys.

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hop_Sing...

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdmDXo...

                      Hop Sing is pretty famous among the Chinese-American community especially around Chinatowns. I don't think it requires any obscure reference.

                      Oh yes, where is Hop Sing Laundromat located?

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Let me rephrase, IT IS named after the character Hop Sing. This was widely reported. Which is why it is called "Laundromat" (Lee claims he didn't call it Hop Sing Laundry out of respect for The French Laundry, although that sounds like a joke), and has nothing to do with any Chinese triad. The owner isn't Chinese anyway, he just likes obscure references to Americana, which you will readily see if you look at the names of their cocktails.