Double Knot: What Lies Beneath at Philly’s Sushi Speakeasy

The Double Knot restaurant and sushi speakeasy in the Gayborhood is a beautiful restaurant full of delightful aromas and great food. Add in the hip space, and it is a combination full of potential.

Let’s get this out there. Double Knot is a recipe for success. They deserve credit for pushing the dual concepts, something we wished more restaurants in Philly did to extend business hours and create a welcoming experience for guests. The subterranean location is also very infamous (a former adult cinema) and makes for a truly unique environment.

Edamame dumplings in broth in a black bowl
The Edamame Dumplings

And Japanese cuisine is always a great bet for a fun dining experience. The food at Double Knot delivers in spades. We raved about the robata grill for days.

And yet, there is one downside. Double Knot has a “free flowing kitchen,” and the dishes appear the minute they are ready, without respect to whether the guest is ready. It’s been nearly a decade since the infamous Washington Post rant about free-flowing kitchens being code for poor service, and our experience matched.

All of our dishes arrived – together – in about 8 minutes. There were more plates than room at the sushi bar. And our server was getting irritated with us for not eating fast enough – a point he drove home by passive-aggressively abandoning us for the rest of the evening. It is the one blemish on an otherwise stand-out experience.

The Menu

Hamachi carpaccio on a gray plate
Hamachi carpaccio

At Double Knot, you’ll find Japanese classics like sashimi and rolls. But you’ll also find dishes inspired from around the world. The soup dumplings have roots in mainland China. The shrimp tacos with avocados are entirely Mexican.

The sashimi was all fresh and excellent. The pork gyoza is in another world. Delicate pork dumplings sleep under a blanket of fried wonton paper. You need to crunch through the blanket to find your dumplings below. The edamame dumplings, on the other hand, were unremarkable. They tasted fine, but lacked the high notes we’ve had in similar dishes at other restaurants in the city.

Fried pork gyoza dumplings in gray bowl with fork
The pork gyoza sits under a blanket of crispy wanton paper

The hamachi carpaccio, once a rarity on Philly menus and now a ubiquitous offering, was delicate and flavorful. The Japanese fried chicken was a favorite, although came through lukewarm in temperature (coursing issues).

The real gem here is the robatayaki grill. If we were to ever return, we’d focus our entire meal on the grill options. The scallion ribeye just sung – a delicate balance of scallions, soy and the natural buttery flavors of the ribeye. Once you try the chicken thigh, you’ll know that the robata is the way to go here.

The Vibe

Guests at tables in dimly lit restaurant
Patrons enjoying their meals in the sushi speakeasy

The restaurant is really two concepts in one. Upstairs is a smart, fashionable coffee-bar-by-day-and-cocktails-by-night joint. There’s seating for about 60 and food from the restaurant can be ordered here. It’s also the scene for the famous Double Knot Happy Hour, were legions of guests pack in for a chance to grab some of the restaurant’s best fare – all for less than $8 an item.

But descending a secret set of candle-lit stairs, you enter the sushi speakeasy and main restaurant. It’s a trendy, minimalistic space with red exposed brick and black painted metal. It’s a nod to when the space was once the Sansom Street Cinema – a place where people used to watch adult movies in the dimly lit room and do whatever else people do in darkly lit subterranean spaces. 

It has all the makings of an amazing restaurant…

Price Range

Japanese fried chicken with lemon wedges on pottery plate
The Japanese fried chicken

Small plate options range from $6 (Edamame) to $15 (broiled oysters).

Cold plate options, mostly carpaccio or tartare, range from $12-14.

Entrees range from $25-35 for meats and $28-35 for fish.

The house-specialty, robatayaki, ranges from $3 (vegetables) to $16 (lobster tail) a piece.


Plates of sashimi and sushi rolls
As you’d expect, sashimi and sushi rolls are plentiful

Double Knot Philly is packed and reservations are mandatory for the downstairs speakeasy. You can try your luck walking in upstairs at the bar, but we don’t recommend it.


Michael Schulson’s Double Knot Philadelphia location can be found on the corner of 13th and Sansom at 120 S 13th St. in the Midtown Village neighborhood. Parking can be found two blocks away at the Wannamaker Garage. The nearest SEPTA stop is the Walnut-Locust station on the Broad Street Line. The bus #12 and bus #42 stops at 13th and Walnut, one block away.

Visit the Double Knot Philly website for more information.

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