We've all been there: one long super fun night full of bad renditions of Skid Row and Soft Cell and the next thing you know, half the people invited took off after leaving about five dollars each are you're stuck with an outrageous happiness killing bill.
The first rule is to only invite people who are in it to win it, not every one you ever met, but even with that in mind for Jim's 30th birthday, I still wanted to find what I thought would be impossible: a place with a set rate and no price gouging. After years of fun but over-priced times elsewhere, I finally found what I was looking for at Japas 27.
Japas has several locations around the city, the first two I called were booked even a week before my event until midnight or later, so if you're planning a big group, I would definitely call at least that far ahead, if not more (you must call first, book a table, then fill out a form online once you're booked). I lucked out with the location on 27th Street, perhaps because it's been slammed on Yelp. The reviews (which you'll notice all came from the same party) had me a bit nervous, but we had a great time and encountered none of the problems the complainers touched on.
The deal is this: for $35 per person you have two hours in a private party room, unlimited karaoke, sushi rolls, appetizer platters, and unlimited drinks. Tack on two more hours for an additional $25 and you have an entire night with tax and tip for $70 a person, no questions, no issues, no confusion at the end of the night. The food was decent (much better than I expected) and the sake and pitchers of Sapporo sure did flow. No one was left standing straight or terribly coherent, especially because it's so hard to gauge how much you've drank from the tiny plastic cups. Fun times!
The selection of music was fine with maybe a little less R Kelly and Hall and Oates than I'd like, but there was plenty of Sir Mix A Lot, Britney, George Michael, Guns and Roses, Winger, and Bob Marley to go around. My sister and I started things off with a stirring rendition of D'Angelo's Brown Sugar, and we all remember Marcus's impressive baritone wrapped around the Oak Ridge Boys classic, Elvira. But the highlight for the birthday boy was a duet of Steely Dan's Deacon Blues.
I highly recommend this place, it's a rare find, but with one warning: once our party changed from 12 to 11 in number, they had to put us in a smaller room, and it was a bit tight to say the least. So, if you want a big room to stretch out in, invite and at least 12 people and make sure they come because you're responsible for paying for the number of guests you book, whether they show of not.
Still, rules aside, the staff was friendly, helpful on the phone, the food was fine and probably kept us from true disaster, the unlimited drinks really are unlimited and worth the bill alone, and there are plenty of song to choose from on good equipment that gave us no grief all night.