Chinatown's Illustrious Secret: Hop Sing Laundromat

Are you on the list?

February 25, 2019

© Elena Veselova |

It’s a Friday night and you’ve just finished up your dinner at Dim Sum Garden in Chinatown. The soup dumplings have you warm and toasty but you still notice the line of people braving the cold across the street. They’re standing by an unmarked door and as you leave you wonder if whatever they’re waiting for is worth it.

What they’re waiting for is access into one of the most secretive bars in Philly. Hop Sing Laundromat, named one of the top 30 bars in the world by Conde Nast Traveler, is home to some of the best cocktails and strictest policies. While plenty of media coverage surrounds the bar, HSL still seems a bit of an enigma to the general public.

While a lot of media outlets are calling the bar a speakeasy, (the nondescript door in the middle of a random Chinatown Street does scream secrecy), the owner Lê ensures that HSL is not a Prohibition-era bar. So what makes Hop Sing Laundromat so enticing? According to Conde Nast Traveler, HSL has one of the largest assortments of Spirits in the nation. Lê has a very alchemical approach to his drinks and that comes to fruition in his unique cocktails.

The bar is also infamous for having an extensive banned list. According to Billy Penn, the list of banned individuals from the bar has grown to over 3,000 people. The bar has a spreadsheet of names that they cross reference with a very technologically advanced algorithm with your ID upon entry. If your name is on the list, then sorry! There's no way you’re getting in.

There’s a whole list of reasons why people are banned from the cocktail bar, but the number one reason seems to be bad tipping. Over 600 people have been banned from the bar for leaving a cheap or indecent tip so make sure you’re good on cash before entering the bar! Some other reasons are puking in the bathroom, taking a picture, or leaving a bad review.

Hop Sing Laundromat is as much an experience as it is good cocktails! Be aware of the rules before you enter so you get the most out of your time there. Remember, the place is cash only and no pictures are allowed. Lê also has a strict dress code policy so make sure you forego the flip flops/sandals, shorts, and hats before you go out!

HSL is located on 1029 Arch Street and open Thursday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.