Korean kine karaoke

Here in Hawaii, we love to karaoke. We’ve all been to karaoke parties with potluck pupu and coolers full of BYOB, where we sing along with friends to our favorite hit songs.

But as popular as karaoke is among locals, to Koreans, it’s a way of life. Koreans just love to sing; it’s in our blood. Koreans flock to noraebangs to relieve stress, celebrate good times and even to close business deals. Noraebangs (literally translated as “song rooms”) can be found on virtually every block in Korea, and karaoke is the most common nighttime activity in the country. Well… that and drinking, but fortunately, the two activities are often combined.

Although Koreans in Honolulu can’t choose from as many noraebangs as in the motherland, there are places scattered around the city where it’s possible to sing along with popular Korean idol groups like Girls Generation, Super Junior or 2NE1. They’re not as elaborate as what you’d find in Korea, but they do offer what Koreans love — song, drink and food, not necessarily in that order.

If you’re not Korean, it may seem intimidating to check out a noraebang, where mostly Korean is spoken. But there’s nothing to fear. These places cater to locals just as much as they do to Koreans. I was surprised to see that many locals have become regulars, and if you think about it, whether you’re Korean or not, we all just want a good time.

So here are some of my favorite places to get my song on when I’m nostalgic for the motherland.

JJ’s Cafe + Karaoke

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When making my karaoke rounds, my first stop is usually JJ’s Cafe + Karaoke in the Samsung Plaza. I’ve been here several times, and it always has a mellow and relaxing vibe. While the people lounging at the bar or in booths are usually there to eat and drink, the singing takes place in five karaoke rooms.

JJ’s Cafe + Karaoke
655 Keeaumoku St.
Open: 5:30 p.m.-2 a.m. daily

Here’s a short video of some of my friends, singing karaoke Korean style at Cafe Duck Butt:

So if you’re ever in the mood to venture away from your usual karaoke stops, check out one of these places. If you see me, say hello and we’ll have a shot of soju!