The Essential Guide to Asiatown

How to Party on Bellaire Boulevard

Karaoke is mandatory, of course.

By Morgan Kinney June 22, 2018 Published in the July 2018 issue of Houstonia Magazine

I’m ashamed to report it’s possible for a Houstonian to lose himself amid the familiar topography of a strip mall. The double-decker, neon-lit plazas lining Bellaire Boulevard are no joke, and one Friday evening I barged into a Dun Huang eatery hauling an 18-pack of Bud Light Lime to discover I’d arrived not at my intended Fu Fu Café but the Fu Fu Restaurant across the strip.

Having alerted the jam-packed establishment to my excellent taste in light beer, I marched across the twilit parking lot to meet up with a gaggle of friends assembled at the correct Fu Fu, ready for a night on the town. Karaoke would be the unquestioned centerpiece of this evening, each of us locked and loaded with our libation of choice, jonesing for a moment in the spotlight at Yes KTV—one of the city’s few BYOB singing establishments.

But first we needed to line our stomachs and scheme about the set list over plates of salt-toasted squid, scalding soup dumplings, and mouth-searing spicy chicken. A cacophony of conversation echoed across the crowded, pink-walled eatery as we proceeded to order a half-dozen other dishes from the picture menu. Eventually, all ten of us waddled out the door. We joked at the prospect of a late-night return—the joint serves ’til 2 a.m., after all.

But the stage awaited, so we headed to the plaza’s second level, where Yes KTV features several dusky, wood-paneled private lounges. Our assigned room was bathed in red and green laser lights and adorned with an artificial Christmas wreath and a watercolor of two majestic stallions. An American flag was taped to the door. One of our starlets dove straight into the catalog, kicking things off with a shout-singing rendition of “Party in the USA.” Then a Britney song was on, followed by a truly borderline performance of “Borderline.”

The Bud Light supply quickly dwindled, and with it any inhibitions. Houstonia’s lifestyle editor shocked us all by spitting out every last syllable of “International Players Anthem” and “Nuthin’ but a G’ Thang.” Apparently unimpressed with the venue’s free pretzels, another performer snuck away to grab some ice cream. To prepare for a plaza-shaking “7/11” rendition, our very own mini Beyoncé took a five-minute, face-down power nap on the lounge’s vinyl couch. Meanwhile, I sang “Dreams” by The Cranberries, because that’s who I am.

Eventually, our server popped into the room, which, by now, had grown sticky with humidity and reeked with the stench of artistic exertion, otherwise known as body odor. Our reservation was almost up, she said, with enough time for maybe one more song. “I’ll choose!” exclaimed one of us, adding a track to the queue.

We proceeded to sing “Party in the USA” for a second time that evening, accidentally, realizing halfway through that it was probably time for bed.

Three More Revelrous Destinations:

  • A Gogo KTV Lounge: This new Dun Huang karaoke joint may not be BYOB, but it more than makes up for that with a full bar and a menu that includes Thai food, ramen, and Hong Kong–style classics.
  • Ohn Korean Eatery: Ring your tableside call button at this clubby spot and summon a soju—the clear Korean liquor vaguely reminiscent of vodka, in either straight or cocktail form—along with crispy pork rinds and fried chicken.
  • GiAu Bar N’ Bites: This place has a more lounge-like vibe. We recommend the watermelon soju—served in an actual mini watermelon—paired with something from the only-in-Houston menu featuring spectacular Viet-Cajun crawfish, squid tentacles, and pork belly tacos.
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