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Say what you want about karaoke but... wait you know what, don't say what you want. Say what we want: that karaoke, when you remove the ego and add some close friends, is a good time. Especially when you find it in unexpected places, and we don't mean inside a car with James Corden on backing vocals. We mean at the back of Asian restaurants of pretty average quality. Here's our roundup of private booths perfect for some vocal debauchery.
We probably shouldn't even be telling you about this one but we're just no good at keeping secrets. It's an authentically scuzzy BYOB Japanese place tucked at the back of a manga store on Brewer Street, where the songs come in English, Japanese and Chinese and all pretensions are checked in at the door. You can also bring your own food, along with all that confidence-inducing booze.
The Star of Kings is your jack of all trades type of boozer, and one of those trades is encouraging some amplified singing. It takes place in one of their function rooms on the first floor which can fit 20 hearts, souls and minds and comes with a Lucky Voice sing station featuring 10,000 tunes. There's got to be something there that you can hold a note to, surely?
One of the biggest and oldest spots amongst the charged chaos of Chinatown, Imperial China might do pretty standard dim sum but it also offers up karaoke in their numerous private rooms. And those rooms sometimes come with pink velvet upholstered chairs! That's what you want, if you're being honest with yourself.
This Victorian pub is one of our favourite Islington haunts, mainly down to its huge selection of beers and its aesthetically pleasing interiors. And for one other reason: karaoke baby, in a high-class room right at the top of the pub where you can leave the outside world behind. It will house 15 people and you can even have your own personal host if that's what you need to have a good time.
Yep, another spot that isn't a looker - so much so that we can't even find a nice photo of the interiors in question. Don't let that put you off because the sushi here is actually quite alright, which is lucky because you'll be eating it if you decide to hire out one of their two rooms and embark on your vocal journey.
The sister venue to the Kings Cross place already mentioned, this is an unsurprisingly similar deal: an energetic 'quirky' boozer slightly rough around the edges and frequently full of beards and tats. The karaoke room here is a dark little sweat box that can fit 15 and comes with that iconic Lucky Voice machine with 10,000,000,000 songs (we may have added some zeros).
Perhaps you've got the gist of the Asian restaurant + karaoke deal by now. Thai Silk does fairly standard Thai food but its two function rooms are very suitable for a birthday karaoke special with over 100,000 English, Thai, and Chinese songs. When you throw in a decent soundsystem and decor riffing heavily on cream, red, and pink, you've got the recipe for a heady night.
Step in to Sushi Hiroba, where upstairs you'll find a neat and tidy restaurant with a conveyor belt rolling out sushi and downstairs you'll find dark, plush rooms ripe for a private party. Whoa, not that kind of party. We're talking about karaoke of course.
And some old favourites
Rowans is the type of place where dreams can be made, and marbles just as easily lost. It's a Dojo favourite for the pure raucous funhouse vibes, plenty of which originate from their karaoke rooms, able to squeeze in 24 bods at a push. Be warned, forget any notions about self-image before heading in here. We've seen all kinds of cool cats broken.
Beneath Tavistock Hotel you'll find Bloomsbury Lanes, a place to really relive the halcyon days of your youth with good honest entertainment in the shape of bowling, karaoke, and an American diner. Riffing heavily on that 50s Americana vibe, there are 4 rooms for karaoke which come with leather sofas, large TV screens and 'stylish' wallpaper.