Hop Sing Laundromat
The month was March, the winter was almost over, and it was a final Bucket List night. For the occasion I checked the web for something different, a “hidden bar”. Ever heard of Hop Sing Laundry?
We drove to China Town, stepped out of the car, and felt the chilly wind as we walked the barren winter sidewalk. By tracking the street addresses of the local shops and restaurants we deduced where we thought the place might be. We spotted four people huddling in the cold facing a metal grate the size of a door next to a doorbell. Ah-ha!
The face of an asian man wearing a knit cap and glasses peeked through the unopened grate and asked how many parties. “Two”. The first four were escorted in and he told the three of us “Please wait here.” In the cold shivering? Really?
Finally, an enormous and well-dressed bouncer escorted us up an unlit stairway to a small dark lobby and pointed to a wooden bench. “Take a seat, get out your IDs and wait for Mr. Lee to explain the house rules.” House rules? Cool. We his followed directions without question, feeling like we were in The Soup Nazi line in the Seinfeld episode and within five minutes
Mr. Lee appeared and perused our identification. “First let me apologize for my club.” (The guy had a shtick!) He explained the house rules, which included no photos and no cell phones. “We will escort you to a private room to make a phone call if you have to speak to your future ex-wife”. We passed the inspection.
He led us, calling us individually by name (remembering the IDs!), to the vast and ornate main room with a vaulted ceiling. The main room was decorated with elaborately framed artwork stretching the length and height of each wall. One of the paintings was a portrait of a magnificently dressed man’s body with a dog’s head. Classy couples were seated at the linen-covered tables.
We occupied three stools next to the mirrored bar with a view of the bartenders shaking the cocktail shakers and the waiters gliding about, delivering peach, amber and blue spirits sold at a fixed price of $12 per drink—a low price for a major city. The drink menu focused on unusually named concoctions and a tale associated with each, like the Little Big Horn. It was a glamorous night and Mr. Lee stopped by to make sure we were keeping our expectations low.
unmarked storefront at 1029 Race Street