Yokohama and DoReMi Karaoke

By on 26 June, 2018 in Amanda Burbank, Bars, City Living, Food, Fun, Music with 0 Comments

This month I helped plan a surprise party. We had a dozen guests and wondered what restaurant would best accommodate that many on a Saturday night. Someone suggested Yokohama which they said had private rooms you could reserve. This seemed like a good idea; we love Japanese and most of us had never been there. When we realized that the restaurant was in the same shopping center as DoReMi Karaoke, something entertaining to do after dinner, our minds were made up. None of us had been there, but it had been on our list of places to check out.

The surprise went perfectly and we had a great time enjoying each others’ company without anyone having to entertain in their home. I imagine we will do this again, but we learned a few things along the way that might make for an even better experience.

Yokohoma is in the now-quiet shopping center where Bell and Vaughn roads intersect. I found it quite pretty. There were cheerful sunflowers. The wallpaper sparkled. Behind the helpful host was a simple but eye-catching aquarium full of bright orange fish. Perhaps this was a nod to the freshness of the sushi? The fish were lovely either way, and I lingered at the tank for a few moments.

Private room

I almost immediately noticed that although there were maybe a half dozen tables in a communal area like most restaurants, the main room had many curtained doorways on either side of the seating area. I peeked in one and found a charming private room that seated four. Our larger private room was also one of many. They had no problem with us bringing decorations and our own cake.

As for the food, Yokohoma serves both Japanese and Korean food. The menu was a little hard to navigate, for example, the sushi was sprinkled throughout the menu in several different sections so you had to keep flipping to make sure you’d seen all the options. We enjoyed the appetizers we ordered: gyoza, tempura vegetables, edamame and agedashi tofu. Those who ordered dinners such as bulgogi or teriyaki chicken were more pleased with their choices than those of us who ordered a variety of somewhat disappointing sushi. I regretted that no one ordered the Korean BBQ and used the cooktops set into the table and plan to amend that oversight on any future visits.

We were all very pleased with the atmosphere and the service, which was friendly, prompt and efficient. There was a phone in the room for you to call your server if you needed anything after your meal had begun.  After dinner, we were off to have some more fun next door.

My past experiences with karaoke had been in dive bars where strangers and regulars alike laughed and cringed over an assortment of drunk people with microphones relishing the limelight. DoReMi like Yokohoma features comfortable private rooms, which are ideal for shy singers like myself who aren’t likely to get up on a stage in a crowded bar but might sing along when it’s just their friends. For parties, the rooms are already festive with the same sparkling wallpaper I noted at the restaurant and an array of fun lighting choices like disco balls and black lights, tambourines and microphones.

There are couches and tables in the room in addition to the screens, which amused us by playing what seemed like randomly selected Korean music videos and often inexplicable images such as languid sea turtles as the background behind the lyrics while we sang Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” For those who want to order food there is a rather extensive menu of Korean bar food which included chicken gizzards stir-fry, both boiled and stir-fried pupa (that’s exactly what it sounds like), dried squid, soups and fried rice. If only the alcohol selection was as extensive, which consisted of wine, beer and sake, and the combination of beer and sake known as the Sake Bomb, which we discovered was not our favorite.

One thing we learned was that you pay for an hour of singing, but you can stay longer both before and after without being charged extra, at least that was our experience this time. This was a nice surprise! We found it a little difficult to make up our minds about songs, which were organized by song title, and in retrospect we realized that we could have pre-selected our songs before the hour started and programmed them in. Instead we wasted a lot of our singing time yelling across the room, “How about this song?” and “Does anyone remember the title of that song so-and-so sings?” We found a lot of songs that we all enjoyed, but perhaps the English song selection could have been better. We couldn’t find Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy,” and that was a shame.

In the end, we had a really fun party and a pleasing, if not perfect, experience. In my opinion, the biggest draws for both Yokohama and DoReMi are their ability to accommodate small to mid-sized parties and that their rooms are private. Although either would be nice on its own, it was enjoyable doing both in one night. Yokohama offers a special on their website where you can receive one hour of free weeknight karaoke with a $100 food purchase.

Amanda Burbank is an observer, savorer, poet, artist, mother, wife, and lover of beauty and life. Unexpected events found her family living nestled in the deep south woods within a family home built by her great grandfather. From there, she works as a freelance writer and photographer. Her heart is to live a life of acceptance and perhaps help others to see beauty in the unlikely through well crafted words and photographs of lovely ordinary everyday moments.

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