Best Hong Kong karaoke bars
Who doesn't love Neway; it's a Hong Kong classic. Every guest to the city is brought to one and every resident has a best and worst memory of a (likely unplanned) trip to the singing establishment. But now our love for Neway can grow. Its management has announced the takeover of former rival California Red, leading to reports that Neway now owns 90 per cent of the Hong Kong karaoke market. That's not necessarily a reason to be concerned. Nicolas Wan, executive director of Neway said that the brands will still be marketed separately, and that new services will be offered.
"Recently, we featured the CEO Gateau in the CEO Karaoke outlet located in Sugar Street," he stated. "The first of its kind in HK, [our] 'cafe in karaoke' offers unique and fresh desserts." There was of course no mention of price rises, which could be a danger with such a large monopoly. But in case things turn nasty, here's a refreshing selection of karaoke establishments to try in the meantime.
How often is karaoke accompanied by a live band?
If you're planning a night out around the races at Happy Valley then a stop at The Derby must be included. A traditional English pub inside, on race days the bar has a band playing an awesome array of classic rock covers. The best part is that drinkers are welcome to join the band for a singsong. They have an extensive songbook and a DJ will help with backing tracks to make any voice sound decent.
The singing's free but it's a pub after all, so do buy some food or drink. Being an English joint, try the fish and chips for HK$55.
Shop G-1, G/F Valley Centre, 80-82 Morrison Hill Road, tel +852 2893 9123
Place to go Nightclub
This rough and ready establishment is a smoky den in which anything goes. Karaoke doesn't get much rowdier -- or dodgy -- than this. Entering the building itself is for the intrepid, its walls covered in posters advertising the neighboring 24-hour saunas, some for gentlemen only. Take the stairs or the rickety shoebox lift to the second floor and make sure you have a Chinese speaker to negotiate a deal. Once in, Blue Girl beer is HK$10, but the idea of a private room takes on another meaning here as it's not unusual to have streams of fellow singers piling in every now and then to challenge you to drink, play dice or just see what everyone's up to. HK$100 per person.
2/F, 2-6 Nanking Street, Pak Tat Mansions, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon, tel +852 2385 1577
The Neway karaoke chain is tried, tested and true. The chief attraction here is familiarity. It may be a bit sanitary for some and more expensive than independent joints, but it's such good clean fun it can't be knocked. Some have Playstations in the rooms for bored singers, most have nice bathrooms and the English song menu can't be beaten anywhere in Hong Kong. Neway karaoke bars fit like an old glove and offer anyone from the first-time singer to the karaoke pro the chance to get comfortable and belt out their favourite tunes. HK$149 per person.
2-8 Sugar Street, Causeway Bay, tel +852 2196 2196
My Favourite Bar
Well-seasoned karaoke fans may wish to brave the more public nature of Kowloon's singing bars. Typical of many such establishments, My Favourite Bar is located in a bar tower which can mean its hard to find but persevere and the reward will be a different kind of karaoke experience. Inside, TV screens are fixed up all over the walls, and microphones litter the tables. Songs are chosen at the bar and singers get up to hit some high notes at any point throughout the night; either at their tables or in the centre of the room in full view of the rest of the bar. Spontaneous and anonymous duets are common as microphones exchange hands in all corners of the bar. Dutch courage is required. Again, the singing is free but pick up some beers for less than HK$40 a bottle.
2/F, The Wave, 184 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel +852 9834 0777
Save the Penthouse for a special occasion, as it is a truly amazing sight. The manager claims this is the largest karaoke bar in Hong Kong -- he may well be right -- but it is the opulence that will awe. Near floor-to-ceiling windows offer views out over Wan Chai and Kowloon, and a live DJ offers some choice cuts for drinkers at the five-star bar. Despite the seemingly hefty price tag, the maths can work out to a pretty affordable evening. Gather enough mates to fill one of the rooms and you can party for HK$300 or less. HK$12,000 for the main room, $9,000 for a smaller room (35 people). Walk-ups are available for smaller groups or casual drinkers after 10:30pm.
29/F, Silver Base Centre, 200 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, tel +852 2833 9992