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Q & A: Karaoke Question, Best Place To Belt It Out?

By Nora Zelevansky / February 25th, 2009

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(M. & P.S. Bring Down The House Echo Park-Style)

Question:  (posed by Connor via "Ask Lifestyle Questions"–02/18)
Hey Nora, what's the best place to go for group Karaoke?  Where you can rent a room for a large group?  Or maybe a bar with karaoke?
I love your blog!  Hugs, Connor

Answer:  First of all, I'm afraid you're only permitted to read this answer if you agree never to karaoke Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back.  Hearing people drunkenly karaoke that song is like watching people dance to I Will Survive at weddings.  IT MUST STOP.  TOO MUCH.

Now that I've said my piece: I feel I'd be remiss in answering this question without first addressing the above photo.  My friend M. is the Karaoke Queen.  And, as anyone who has had ample karaoke experience knows, her royal highness fits the "unassuming" profile.  It's always the quiet, demure ones, no?

Anyway, M. not only transforms from adorably awkward, proper lady to maniac crooner at the first sign of an old school Britney or Destiny's Child ballad, but she also works serious dance moves.  It's truly a sight to behold.

Lucky for us, I have pictures:

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ANYWAY, here are some of my favorite places in LA, where I've watched M. go nutty:

EAGLE ROCK (and M. rocks too):

Okay, I know that All Star Lanes is TECHNICALLY a bowling alley and a trek, but bear with me.  First of all, they have bowling AND karaoke AND a bar on Saturday nights (double check cause the schedule changes).  Second of all, you're like blocks from Casa Bianca, so–for my 29th birthday for example–I had a bowling party, followed by drunken karaoke, followed by eating our weight in crazy inexpensive yummy Italian food at Casa Bianca (they take reservations for parties over six, I believe).

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(Bowling at the 29th in Andrew's Glasses and Then At Casa Bianca With My Prizes NOT For Birthday, But For My Impeccable Bowling and Karaoke Skills–YUP)

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(Yum, Casa Bianca that night too . . . )

HOLLYWOOD (and so would M.):

AMAGI is a bar situation in Hollywood.  I'm not sure about private rooms, but their karaoke area in intimate enough not to feel intimidating, so . . .

BRASS MONKEY is an old standard for locals; they've actually been open since 1971.  This is a great option if you want drinks AND snacks, as they're actually a cafe too.  Every night of the week!

LITTLE TOKYO (and big M.):

OIWAKE in Japanese Village Plaza is always festive and you can eat sushi and drink sake while you sing.  I just really like the Little Tokyo karaoke scene cause I get it feels authentic.  Apparently, City Cat Karaoke has private rooms, but I know a bunch of the Little Tokyo spots do.

Metromix offers some other options and City Search did a "Best Of" LA Karaoke for 2008, which lists some Sawtelle and Korea Town options. 

I know K-Town has some great spots, but I haven't experienced anything except Zip for cocktails.  Same with Sawtelle.  So, if anyone can recommend some good Korea Town and west side spots, then please "comment" below and let us know!

Also, it's hardly a private room scenario, but bars like Barney's Beanery and Guys (sorta underground star-studded) totally do weekly karaoke nights.

Kinda makes you want to sing.  And dance.  Right, M.?

xo – N.

Q & A: Food Question, Let Them Eat Cake?

By Nora Zelevansky / February 19th, 2009

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(Sweet Lady Jane Cakes–Hmm–Maybe It's Time For an Un-Birthday)

Question: (Posed by anon via "Ask Lifestyle Questions!"–2/19/09)

Since you know everything good in L.A., I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on where to get a great birthday cake. 

Answer: Moi?  You're too kind.  I don't know everything good in L.A.  Just ALMOST everything.  Hee.

Now, let's get down to cake business!  YUM.  Obviously, there are a million places to go, but here are some varied options below:

1.
Eagle Rock Italian Bakery is a hardcore real deal Italian bakery in this burgeoning hipster east side hood.  (If you trek here, you CANNOT skip a drink at The Chalet and dinner at Casa Bianca, a red-checkered tablecloth Italian pizza joint and neighborhood standard up the street–fried eggplant pizza and cannolis are the famed choices).  The bakery's traditional Italian 
birthday rum cakes are unbelievable and CRAZY inexpensive and you get to pick yellow, pink or blue flowers.  I told you: OLD SCHOOL.  As my grandmother used to bring us versions of this from Brooklyn as children, I searched high and low and was incredibly psyched when I made this discovery.

2. Any true Angeleno worships the ground that Sweet Lady Jane walks on.  All the cakes in this sweet little Melrose WEHO cafe are beyond DELICIOUS and ridiculously beautiful looking (though not so cheap), but their famous Three-Layer Berry Cake is the best (I think). 

3. Buttercake Bakery in Culver City (well, adjacent) has a yummy, sort of a homemade feel, but with professional level deliciousness.  I'm a glutton for their classic Signature Buttercake with traditional vanilla cake and chocolate frosting (you can choose other frosting, but pleeeaase).  If it ain't broke:) They're opening a WEHO annex shortly.


4. Okay, I know this goes against some of what I preach, but, as vegan cakes go, I'm a big fan of the Carrot Cake from
Cooks Double Dutch Jivana Vegan Bakery.  It's seriously yummy and moist.  For reaaals.

So, you can have your cake and let me eat it too!  Best of all worlds . . .


xo – N.