>> 7/13/12

1029 Race Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Philadelphia's a beer town. But I'm from New York, where cocktails reign supreme. So when I asked a local friend where we could go for real drinks (other than Franklin Mortgage, which I've already written up), she said "How about Hop Sing?" It seemed perfect. Oodles of top shelf liquor. A hidden entrance. A Chinatown-themed speakeasy inside of Philadelphia's Chinatown. The owner greets you at the signage-free hidden entrance and personally checks your ID. Plus there's a don't-be-a-slob dress code, a rarity in the a-Phillies-jersey-is-just-fine city of brotherly love. 

Upon entering the literally pitch black foyer, we were asked to sit and wait as our eyes adjusted and as our table was prepared. This was pure gimmick straight out of a Times Square theme restaurant. Jekyll and Hyde would be proud. We were the first guests of the evening. There was nothing to prepare. But here in the small dimly lit room, alone but for one man (the owner, who has cultivated and nurtured a reputation of eccentricity) standing over us, we were told the "rules". Upon pain of expulsion, no phones, no cameras, no loud talking. Privacy was paramount (but feel free to tweet). Thus, you'll forgive me for the lack of any photos of the interior or of the drinks. It was verboten. Hell, I even asked permission. I was told no. Until I go back and sneak in a few shots, you'll have to check out this Eater article for a photo. There are no candelabras on the tables.

Unlike the speakeasies of NYC (and despite what the Hop Sing website says, it is most assuredly a speakeasy, it's large inside. Easily twenty tables, plus seats at the bar.  Compared to Dutch Kills and Milk & Honey, it's safely four times the size, which is good news for booze hounds. Deep red walls, high ceilings, lots of paintings, antique copper fire extinguishers, and a floor tiled in thousands of pennies speak to the ostentatious display of kitch here. But it's fun kitch that adds to the mood.

We ordered six drinks in all and the experience as a whole leaves me with a few positive and a few negative things to say. First, the positive. Every single drink tasted great. The atmosphere was spot on. The servers were very attentive and polite. I asked for a Ramos Gin Fizz and they didn't hesitate to know what I was talking about and say "sure we can make that, just give us a few minutes." It was delicious. Finally, as someone used to shelling out $15 for a decent cocktail in the city, paying only $10 here in Philly was practically cheap.

Now, the negative. As I mentioned, the gimmicky game played by the owner was tiring after 30 seconds. Having him come to the table a few times to adjust the place settings and ask if everything was okay was just too OCD for my taste. While every cocktail tasted great, they were oddly weak. Each one was bordering on virgin. We had three each and should have left seeing double. But I could have driven home. And, as someone who drinks cocktails more than he drinks beer, I've never in my life had a weaker Manhattan. Rumor is that the owner is a bit of a weirdo control freak and if the staff's eggshell walking was any indication, it's not a rumor. I can't remember the last time I've seen a group of people so on edge, like they could get fired at any minute.

We arrived around 6:30 on a Thursday and, as I said, were the first in the door. When we left at around 8:30 there were a few tables taken, but by no means was there a line. Maybe the weekend gets more crowded, but on this particular evening, it was light.

Hop Sing will be better served with far less shtick, far more customer service, far less OCD, and far stronger drinks. It's a venue that Philadelphia sorely needs to counter it's beer-obsession, but there's work to be done.

Hop Sing is cash only.

 [ Copyright eateryROW 2012 ]

Hop Sing Laundromat on Urbanspoon


Zachary July 15, 2012 at 11:06 PM  

Next time you're in Philly try TRIA, there are 3 locations. Wine, beer and cheese, Forest Hills would reign supreme with something of their caliber.

Anonymous,  July 15, 2012 at 11:07 PM  

Next time you're in Philly try TRIA, there are 3 locations. Wine, beer and cheese, Forest Hills would reign supreme with something of their caliber.


Post a Comment

Copyright Notice

The contents of this website/weblog are the property of its author and are protected under the copyright and intellectual property laws of the United States of America. The views expressed within are the opinions of the author. All rights reserved.

Readers are free to copy and distribute the material contained within, but such external use of the author's original material must be properly attributed to the author. Attribution may be through a link to the author's original work. Derivative use is prohibited. The borrower may not alter, transform, or build upon the work borrowed.

The author is free to change the terms of this copyright at any time and without notice. At the written request by the borrower, the author may choose to waive these rights.



$ $$ $$$ $$$$ $$$$$ 24 Hours Alphabet City American Asian Fusion Astoria Atlas Park Australian Austrian Bagels Bakery Barbecue Bar Scene Battery Park City Baychester Bayside Beer Garden/Hall Belgian Belly Dancing Beyond NY Bhutanese Bistro Boerum Hill Bolivian Brewery British Bronx Brooklyn Brooklyn Heights Brunch Burgers BYOB Cafe Cajun/Creole Carroll Gardens Cash Only Celebrity Chef Chain Chelsea Chinatown Chinese CLOSED Cobble Hill Cocktails Coffee College Point Comfort Food Czech Deli Dessert Dim Sum Diner Ditmas Park Downtown Dumbo East 40s East 50s Eastern European East Village Elmhurst Events Filipino Financial District Flatiron Flushing Fondue Food Court Forest Hills Fort Greene Fort Tryon Park French Gastropub German Glendale Gramercy Grand Central Terminal Greek Greenpoint Greenwich Village Harlem Hell's Kitchen Hoboken Hookah Bar HOT DOGS Howard Beach Indian Irish Pub Italian It begins... Jackson Heights Japanese Jersey City Korean Koreatown Kosher Latin Lenox Hill Lincoln Center LISTINGS Little Italy Long Island City Lounge Lower East Side Lunch Manhattan Meatpacking District Mediterranean Mexican Michelin Starred Middle Eastern Middle Village Midtown Moroccan Murray Hill Nepali New Zealand NoHo Nolita Noodles Norweigian NY Area NYC Institution Organic Other Outdoor Seating Park Slope Peruvian Pizza Polish Queens Ramen Raw Bar Red Hook Rego Park Rockaways Rooftop Russian Seafood Small Plates SoHo South African Southern South Street Seaport Spanish Sri Lankan Staten Island Steakhouse Sunnyside Sunset Park Swedish Tapas Tea Thai Trendy TriBeCa Truck Ukrainian Union Square UPDATED Upper East Side Upper West Side Uzbek Vegetarian Venezuelan Vietnamese Views Vineyard Washington Heights West 30s West 40s West 50s West Village Williamsburg Wine Bar Winery Woodside Yemeni

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009. Sponsored by: Website Templates | Premium Themes. Distributed by: blog template

Back to TOP