The first time I met Sunny, the owner of Yaksok Karaoke Bar (9444 Long Point, 832-358-0035), she poured shots of soju for a friend and me and told us about getting robbed by a Vietnamese gang in Queens while the bar's sing-along machine plunked out a MIDI version of "Hotel California." It was a slow night, and there were no would-be Don Henleys around. Sunny, who's run the windowless Korean karaoke bar for six years, told us to come back on a Thursday, Saturday or Sunday. We swung back by on the Lord's day for another bottle or two of Korean booze (the Chum-Churum brand we were drinking is, like a lot of soju, 20 percent alcohol by volume) and to watch the karaoke machine grade singers on a scale of 0-100. Sunny had more customers to tend to this time, including an unseen group in the private room that had a thing for fresh fruit platters, but she was still as hospitable as before. We drank and watched singers perform to that traditional favorite, the incongruous video. One highlight was a regular doing "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" while the screens behind the stage showed slow-motion footage of a young girl descending a water slide. He earned a perfect 100 and Sunny bought him a beer. "It's like reality is suspended in here," my friend said. Of course, that's a compliment.
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1 1/2 ounces Chum-Churum soju
1 rocks glass worth of ice water
Shoot the soju and sip the water between drinks. Custom says you always refill your friend's shot glass when it's empty, and you never refill your own. Not sure how drinking soju at home by yourself works.