For a few hours on Saturday, Jen and I had a chance to sit down and talk with Lêe, the man behind the soon-to-open Hop Sing Laundromat in Chinatown. Reporting isn’t really our thing, but we’re pretty excited to see what kind of place Hop Sing turns into so we thought we’d share it here.
It’s great looking on the inside so far. The whole décor of the place has been put together with an attention to detail that seems above and beyond what most places aspire to. The physical space behind the bar looks like what I imagine most bartenders would dream of, and the overall concept feels a lot more democratic and customer-oriented than is the norm in the craft cocktail scene. Lêe was very deliberate in stressing the atmosphere he wants to create: relaxed, fun, and above all, private. No cell phones will be allowed in the main room (a bench will be available in the entryway for the express purpose of taking phone calls), no pictures, and the tables will be set further apart than most of us are probably used to.
As for the drinks, the emphasis seems to be on stripping away the flash of the 20-ingredient cocktail and focusing more on the balance of classics like Manhattans and Sidecars: the perfect combination of a few simple parts. Lêe also tell us that he believes that drinking is a highly personal experience, and if you want to substitute a drink ingredient (say…from a bottle of $200 scotch to Johnny Walker Red), not only will the bartender happily oblige without explaining to you that he knows better, the price of the drink will reflect the change.
By his own admission, Lêe is a little bit crazy. Parts of the interior of Hop Sing have been done and re-done many times over because he doesn’t think they’re just right. The bar was moved from one side of the room to the other based entirely on the sight-lines of the bartenders and servers. The whole undertaking looks like a lot of passion went into it, and we are pretty excited to see how the whole thing pans out. We’ll definitely be reporting back in a month or so when Hop Sing Laundromat finally opens its doors.