At Tokyo Shabu Sushi Restaurant, sushi masters slice up delicate sashimi and handrolled maki while chefs put flame to chicken katsu, teriyaki steak, and umami udon noodle soups. But the crew also takes their flavors a step beyond the offerings of many other Japanese restaurants. The menu has a knack of blending Japanese and western influences, as seen in teriyaki-style New York strip steak and a creamy cheesecake dessert made with earthy green tea. Potent sake cocktails and frosty Japanese beers go with just about any dish and help visitors work up the courage to perform their spoken-word versions of "Purple Rain" during weekend karaoke.
Asian and American karaoke styles join forces at Pandora Karaoke & Bar, whose moodily lit space hosts both an open stage for crowd-friendly crooners and 15 private rooms for groups. In either setting, singers scroll through Super Master touch-screen karaoke systems to choose from more than 100,000 songs in languages including English, Mandarin Chinese, and Frank Sinatra’s native pig Latin. Wireless microphones then capture crooning voices as lyrics scroll across 50-inch plasma TVs, serenading spectators as they munch sushi and Asian-fusion fare from the menu. Inside private rooms, colorful cushioned banquettes host groups of up to 40 harmonizers beneath themed decorations such as brewery logos or a rebus representing the complete lyrics to “Eye of the Tiger.”
Playground serves up classic Korean dishes and a few American standards, whether you’re fueling up before a long night of karaoke or stopping in for a few happy hour bites. Bibimbap comes in beef or spicy seafood varieties, while a house sauce sweetens thin-sliced bulgogi. Shareable finger foods, such as popcorn chicken and garlic fries, make grabbing a bite between songs easy.
Soju—a Korean spirit that’s generally made with rice—is similar to vodka but lower in ABV. This smooth liquor dominates the drink menu and can be ordered on its own or in one of many tantalizing fruity cocktails, such as lychee or mango. But it’s not all about soju. The drink list also offers domestic and European beers, along with Korean brews like Hite and OB. A full liquor selection rounds out the choices, including 17 different whiskey options.
Guests gather in Playground’s private karaoke rooms, which can hold up to 20 people or 5 hyenas. Lyrics flicker on a flat-screen television as singers croon, cushioned by leather banquettes. Note that a food and beverage minimum applies to private room rental.
At Knet Karaoke, patrons can take the mic any night of the week. And they won't have to suffer through a stranger's rendition of "I'm a Little Teapot," because karaoke kings and queens perform in their own private chambers. Behind the crimson door to each room, some of which hold up to 22 people, low banquettes offer cozy seating and glossy tables reserve noshes chosen from the menu. Wireless microphones enable performers to work the room, dancing to the melody or crowd surfing to Hilary Duff's rock hits.