“This sucks. This is going to ruin every other bar for me. Why would you want to go anywhere else?”
That’s what my brother Jason said to me after one sip of his first drink at Hop Sing Laundromat, a super-hyped bar that’s hidden in Chinatown.
We only really went because Jason is moving back to Los Angeles, and we wanted to do something particularly ridiculous. We did visit Dino Don’s Dinosaurium earlier in the day, to give some perspective.
I’ll be honest, I was looking forward to hating this bar. As it turns out, it’s awesome. The atmosphere is awesome, the drinks are great, the bartenders are A+, the prices are fair. Look man, I don’t go to a lot of bars. I don’t drink a lot. I don’t pretend to be a man about town or any kind of expert. But I know that I’d rather be at Hop Sing Laundromat than any other bar (non-sports variety) I’ve ever been to.
The bar is located at 1029 Race St., but you won’t find signs for it anywhere. We didn’t see it, so after a quick google search, we found a picture of the door (thanks FooBooz!). There’s a black gate, with some blue light coming from behind it. There are no signs, there is no one standing at the gate. We walked up and two men came out and told us the door man would be out shortly, and closed the door.
“This is already a good story,” Jason said to me.
Out came Lee, who I had contacted on Twitter (@PreacherBourbon) about coming to the bar. He stood behind the gate, and asked why I had violated the dress code. Both my brother and I were wearing sneakers. I had forgotten sneakers were not allowed. After informing him my brother was only in town for the night, he told me to step to the side, and he’d get back to us.
We stood outside for another few minutes, in part hoping we’d be sent home and never going in, only because to us, being sent home for being improperly dressed would be a great story.
Lee came out again and asked for our ID’s. He sent us into a small waiting area before we’d be seated, along with another party that was waiting outside. The waiting area looks like an old-timey shoe shine room, only super dark. There were four monitors inside, one that monitors outside so they know when someone has arrived.
Up until this point I felt like I was in a deleted scene from Lost Highway.
Then, along with two door men, Lee gave us the rules.
1. No talking on your cell phone (texting and tweeting were allowed).
2. No recording devices of any kind (what happens here, stays here).
3. Have low expectations. Whatever you’ve heard about this place isn’t true, and they will almost certainly under-deliver (paraphrasing his words here).
The place inside is beautiful. There’s a ton of space, and I can’t imagine it’s ever overcrowded, as it appears as if there is a one seat, one person rule. There’s a ridiculous selection of liquors on the wall behind the bar. The decorations are eclectic, but all kind of fit into the “you’re in an old-timey bar that may or may not break into some kind of strange Eyes Wide Shut party” theme.
We sat at the bar and were introduced to Jo, who would be our bartender. I spent most of the evening trying to figure out if here Australian accent was fake. By the end of the night I determined it wasn’t, but I still wouldn’t be surprised if it was. She greeted us and seemed excited to serve. After finding out some about our tastes, both Lee and Jo gave us sections of the drink menu that might be best suited for us. I got a “Blood And Sand,” which is apparently a pretty traditional cocktail.
One thing that you can’t help but notice is how much care they seem to put into every drink. Though it took a while to get one, it was only because they were crafting and tasting it, not because we were waiting for service.
The drink was awesome, and whatever my brother got (some creamy yellowish thing), was awesome.
For our second drink, we decided to just let the Jo pick for us. She picked an Old Fashioned for me (perfect), and while Jo was away, another bartender chose something else for Jason. Both drinks were an A+.
We decided to leave because we drove, and if we didn’t leave then, we might never go. There weren’t prices on the drink menu, but I was pleasantly surprised when the bill came (drinks were $10 each). The only comparison I have is Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company, and the prices were less expensive.
Jo and Lee wished us well, and we were on our way.
I’m not the only person who likes it, either. Of its 55 reviews on Yelp, 51 of them are five stars. Just google it and read the stories written. I’m telling you, the place is no joke.
At first, I wasn’t going to write anything, as I didn’t want more people to find out about the place. I’d hate for it to become somewhere I can never get into. We decided however, that it was only fair to do so, and they deserved whatever good publicity I could give.
And for what it’s worth, we weren’t treated any differently than any other patron.
From what I understand, they’re only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday right now.
You can follow them on Twitter @HopSingLaundry.
You can follow Lee on Twitter @PreacherBourbon.
The official site is hopsinglaundromat.com.
Remember to leave your sneakers at home.