Saturday, 7 February 2009

Economy Karaoke!

LAST week was all about the snow. This week is all about the birthday of Charles Darwin. So what better subject to break the silence on this blog, but karaoke.

Last Thursday, at the end of my two weeks of non-stop, catch-up, employment-based stress (I got behind), we went out for a work social. But unlike other work socials, which usually involve the pub, and then another pub, this one started in an okonomiyaki restaraunt off Leicester Square.

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese cuisine from the Kansai and Hiroshima regions of Japan, the word translating as 'cook what you like'. It is a pancake or omelette-style dish, cooked teppanyaki-style (on a hot plate in front of you), filled with, as the name suggests, anything you like: only, as we are all far too reserved, we all went for the safer, preset options. Shortly after ordering, my chef was frying a strange egg mix with unknown ingredients, adding pork, bacon, cheese and, bizarrely, salmon. Once suffiently fried and baked (amazing what you can do on a hot plate), one London Mix Okonomiyaki was served, complete with sprinkles of seaweed and fish flakes.

And given that it truly was an odd and not necessarily apetising mix of ingredients, it was genuinely delicious. I was even impressed with my chopsticks skills. If you're ever tempted I do reccommend Abeno and Abeno Too Okonomiyaki, the only two okonomiyaki restaurants in London.

Then we were off, via the off licence, into the depths of Soho at night. Past the 'alleyway of sleaze' with its own Bridge of Sighs, past dubious shops and signs for even more dubious shops, past scary bouncers and into... a Japanese book shop. Despite its location, this seemed to be fairly innocuous and innocent. It had real books. With words and everything.

Our reason for being here was not immediately apparent, until Isobel led us to the counter, behind which was a door that led into a whole other world: a darkened corridor leading to half a dozen karaoke booths. Armed with our wine and plastic cups, we entered these booths - big enough only for a maximum of eight people, two microphones and the wonder that is a karaoke machine - threw away our inhibitions, and spent the evening being very silly.

I have only ever done karaoke once before, also with work. That time I had been highly embarrassed, so I chose a song I already knew: One Week by Barenaked Ladies. I chose it because I thought it might give off the impression of talent (it has a lot of words, sung very quickly, which need to be learnt beforehand - something I had conveniently done to perform it with Nelly in Birmingham). Ultimately, though it went down well, I had cheated.

This time I could relax a little. So, in no particular order, I mauled Michael Jackson's Thriller, Whitesnake's Here I Go Again, Smooth by Santana and Rob Thomas, and, I proclaim with no embarrassment or regret, There's Your Trouble by the Dixie Chicks. All performed with cheesy Japanese videos playing in the background.

I had a lot of fun.

Now then, Charles Darwin...