Fries, beer, and an off-key version of a Soft Cell anthem

For those who dread the spotlight of karaoke, this cozy cavern provides pockets of anonymity; you can sing from the comfort of your seat or your spot along the wall. With fake orchestra ready and mic in one hand, you'll need a potent potable in the other. Japas serves Sapporo, Asahi, Kirin Light, and the darker, crisper Kirin Ichiban—No. 1!—Draft (all $7), and cocktails concocted from numerous spirits, starting at $8. On busy nights you'll have to wait for your song ($1 each), so fill your boozed belly with Japas's tapas: standard finger-foods like gyoza, shumai, edamame, kara-age (deep-fried chicken), tsuemono (pickles), and other absorbents like spicy french fries and popcorn ($5.50 to $5.75). Observe the karaoke enthusiast. Like coke or a fawning hooker, the microphone instills false confidence, revealing the rock star people wanna be. On a recent night, one girl added extra cheese and indelibly marked the memory when she harmonized to her pal's rendition of U2's "One." Catering to a diverse clientele, Japas has more than the usual Top 40 fare. Although the only Elvis Costello song was "She," this reviewer's set list included "Heart of Glass," "Burning Down the House," "Tainted Love," "West End Girls," and "Anarchy in the U.K." For every NYU kid or big-business sleaze singing Whitney Houston or Grease, someone's gotta punk it up a bit. And at Japas, you can let the showboat out.

 
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