The following dispatch is from the mind of Reverb karaoke korrespondent Jeff Roman:
The Yen Wor Garden in Greenwood offers karaoke seven nights a week. I love this place because it's usually as dead as a Julius Caesar and it's but two minutes from my home. The lounge is a long, darkly-lit bar completely separate from the restaurant. They have a nice sound system with wireless mikes for shy folks that prefer to sing from their table. But for those who do enjoy the limelight, the stage area has all the accouterments: mirrors and multi-colored lights surrounding the stage with a disco ball and smoke show ready to roll. These gadgets make performing in front of five people really fun.
I treat this place like it's my gymnasium; I go there to exercise my vocal muscles and work out songs I haven't tried before. I wish I could call it "the gym," but gyms bring to mind health clubs, and health clubs have cute single women. At the Greenwood Yen Wor (there's a West Seattle counterpart), most nights you're just not going to find this class of individual. From Sunday to Wednesday, there are two to three drunken middle-aged regulars with maybe a random table to round out the rotation, which is totally fine. You tell me I'm getting up five times an hour, but there's not going to be any chicks? I'll take that no problem.The bar hasn't upgraded to a computerized catalog yet, but still have a very impressive selection. The song menu at the two other k-bars in the area, Baranof and Rickshaw, are garbage compared to Yen Wor's. The regulars sing a lot of classic country and do it heart-wrenchingly well. They pour their guts into every depressing lyric. Watching them makes me think of those clips of Elvis at the end of his career, crying into the mike as he sang "Are You Lonesome Tonight"--except the Yen Wor vocalists don't screw up the lyrics.
I had a big problem with their last KJ. He was an old man that believed he was the best singer in the house, which is the last quality you want in a host. A number of issues can, and will, arise when you're drunk and dealing with a prick like that. Earlier this year I offended him just by singing Bob Seger's "Against the Wind." After getting big cheers from a weekend crowd, he told me that this was his song, and went on to accuse me of deliberately showing him up. From that point on he treated me like an asshole. Thankfully, they recently replaced him with a friendly dude named Rex.
The Yen Wor lounge has a full bar and the kitchen is open late. The bartenders are good people and pour stiff drinks (the Greenwood way). Things pick up on weekends but it's not nearly as out of control as Baranof karaoke across the street. If you're out with a big group during the week, this is one of the easiest places to take over. I encourage everyone to come by and provide this place with some real fun.