Nobody can refuse a good sing-along, can they? Lucky Voice Soho brings some kitsch Japanese fun to the West End and it’s easy to see why it’s one of the most highly regarded karaoke bars in the capital.
Walking up and down Poland Street - an increasingly trendy Soho thoroughfare - isn't boring, with a hubbub of cafes, pubs, bars, eateries and music shops. You'd think that, as one of the area's fringe entertainment venues, Lucky Voice Soho would advertise itself better than black steps and a neon light small enough to fit in Verne Troyer's trouser pocket. When you've worked out that the place is, in fact, an ostentatious cellar space, you're met with a reception with black walls and low lights getting you into the backstage spirit before a big performance. This place has its own unique appeal – an illicit bubbliness highlighted by the effervescent staff.
Dimly-lit rooms come with an LCD jukebox and multicoloured anything-that-isn't-black flashes tell you immediately you're about to make a considerable fool of yourself. Sofa seating is just a little uncomfortable, although perhaps this is a deliberate attempt to make you get up and shuffle to the middle of the room for a Tina Turner style croon. The bar area, if you venture outside your multicoloured microcosm, is rather small but friendly, and the seating is oddly sexy.
Lucky Voice Soho has a bubbly and heartening atmosphere that belies its intense interior. Drinks are brought to you in double-quick time and with a smile, just press the 'thirsty' button on your jukebox (dangerous).
It's truly odd how easy it is to get into the full flow of a sing-song, even if you're with one of those frightfully trendy couples who'd rather be seen murdering kittens with a rusty spoon than harmonising to Toni Braxton. For starters, a trip to the toilet, past all the caterwauling work parties and hen nights, is enough to get in the 'who cares?' karaoke mood. The jukebox is easy to use and there's even a fancy dress box in the corner – be sure to check out the Brian May wig if you've necked that one cocktail too many.
There is a wide range of drinks available at Lucky Voice Soho, all of them presented forebodingly upon a wipe-clean slab of perspex. Beers are plentiful, if a little pricey. Expect to pay £3.90 for a Kirin and the same for a Cobra. However, there are a few nice rarities like Vedett (£3.70) and Moretti (£3.50) providing a welcome change from Becks and Budweiser.
A modest selection of red and white wine is also on offer, both of which range from £15 to £25. If you really feel like getting into the mood (and the gutter), you could fork out for a bottle of Japanese sake. Fearsomely venomous, there are two bottles on display - the cold one being £24 while a hot option will set you back four pounds more. You could wash the sake down with a few customised shots, like the sharp yet sweet Lemon Drop (limoncello, lemon-infused sake and vodka; £4.50) or a tongue-itchingly sugary Jelly Tot (cognac, lychee, Archers Peach Schnapps and Chinese grape jellies; 4.50). However, at £4.50-£5 a pop they may weigh a little too heavy on your wallet after some time.
No, it's the cocktails everyone is, and should be, after. Love is Sweet (crystal-clear twist with Shochu, lychee and rose petal vodka, £7) is fantastic, with just the right hint of throat-stripping alcohol to get you in tune. Likewise the Kimono (£7), with similar ingredients but a few more fruity flavours make it a Love is Sweet-lite. Other cocktails push the fruit more, but the best of the bunch has to be Pod 99 (£7) that combines vanilla vodka, banana and strawberry liqueurs with pineapple, guava juice, ginger ale with a popping candy-encrusted strawberry. As well as being smoother than a James Bond come on, it'll creep up on you slowly with the faintest hint of vodka being largely overpowered by the heady mix of fruits and liqueur. Well, at least if you get drunk you'll have got your five a day.
The Last Word
Lucky Voice Soho is stonkingly good fun and horribly easy to get stuck into. You'll be swaying to Abba or screaming to The Stones in no time. A great little place if you fancy something different with friends.