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in Albany Park or in Northwest Side or Kimball on the Brown line

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Hiromi's Oriental Restaurant

View Map3609 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago
Tel: (773) 588-6764
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Editorial Review of Hiromi's Oriental Restaurant

Framing the entrance to Hiromi's Oriental Restaurant is a large archway decorated with fake leaves, white lights and Christmas tinsel. This colorful entryway is just a taste of what Hiromi's, a karaoke diner and self-proclaimed "only Japanese-Filipino Restaurant in Town" has to offer its patrons.

With a giant flat screen centered in the front of the room and several other televisions scattered throughout, you’ll be able to read the words to your chosen song no matter where you're sitting. And that's sort of the point here. The servers bring the microphone to your table and you can croon from there, though they're definitely not averse to anyone standing up and making a spectacle. And with two notebooks filled with song titles to choose from, you'll find karaoke staples ("It's Not Unusual," "Brown Eyed Girl"), surprise favorites ("Because I Got High", "19-2000") and lots of Japanese, Filipino and Spanish tracks as well.

When I lived on the tiny Hawaiian island of Molokai, I would regularly witness karaoke parties in the backyards of my Filipino neighbors. The atmosphere in Hiromi's is every bit as relaxed and comfortable as those events, with a friendly, encouraging staff and a BYOB policy. All you have to do is plop your beers into the provided bucket of ice and work up the nerve to sing a song or two. The whole situation makes for one of the most enjoyable karaoke experiences available in the city.

If Hiromi's were just a karaoke bar, it'd be a worthwhile destination. But the place goes the extra mile with two full menus (one Japanese, one Filipino) featuring everything from assorted sushi and donburi rice bowls (chicken, shrimp, pork, beef or crab over rice) to lechon kawali (pan-roasted pork) and beef teriyaki. The menu might be a little light on vegetarian dishes, but the vegetable chop suey seeks to make up for that. The edamame appetizer, brought out steaming and salt-covered in a paper bowl, is the best I've ever had.

Average cost: <$10

Centerstage Reviewer: Zach Freeman

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6:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Tuesday-Sunday; closed Monday

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