Photography by Caitlin Abrams
Sushi at Encore Karaoke & Sushi Lounge
The old Seward Co-op building at 21st and Franklin is now Encore Karaoke & Sushi Lounge, which couldn’t be further in spirit from the site’s original tenant. Offering raw fish and private karaoke rooms, Encore is a portal of sorts, sending visitors to a universe where Whitney Houston can be belted out with a side of Asahi beer.
Those who aren’t musically inclined can hang at the restaurant and bar in the front, but the real treat is found down a black-lit hallway, where five rooms of varying sizes allow your inner T-Swiftee to come out. Behind padded, soundproofed doors, the disco-lit rooms hold two to 30 people. There’s plush couch seating, large screens, cordless microphones, and a karaoke library that plays more than 1,500 titles. Gone are the days of flipping through binders with pages of listings, or putting your name in a queue and waiting hours for your turn. This system allows you to select and program your perfect night on a wall-mounted touchscreen or via handheld iPad. Half the fun is just scrolling and picking between Snoop Dog and ABBA (never mind, do both!). Different rooms have different rates, from $30 to $200 an hour, depending on the time and size. And there are great package deals that give you drink credits along with the room.
And while your bestie is crooning “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” you can be enjoying full-service dinner. The sushi here is fun and creative—think crazy rolls and platters adorned with pretty flowers. There’s plenty of cream cheese rolls for the beginners but also some well-cut sashimi and nigiri options for those looking for simplicity. I like the rainbow salad with tuna, salmon, and yellowtail slices dressed with a tasty ginger soy sauce, as well as the Encore roll comprising various fresh fish rolled in a strip of thinly sliced cucumber instead of nori. The fish we tasted was fresh, and the service was great—just flip the switch on the wall and your server shows up ready to help (but not to sing backup, though you could always ask). Cut loose here. Enjoy yourself. And leave happy with your dinner, if not your performance.