West Miami-Dade

Sounds of Asia: Karaoke bar in Sweetwater aims for the authentic

Yunxiao Jiang sets up the next song for Hui Huang at La Shangrila in Sweetwater.
Yunxiao Jiang sets up the next song for Hui Huang at La Shangrila in Sweetwater. For the Miami Herald

Hui Huang remembers holding the microphone and singing her lungs out at a karaoke bar in China.

Now the Miami woman can relive those moments at La Shangrila, an Asian-themed karaoke business in Sweetwater.

“It feels like home,” she said, while taking a singing break. “Karaoke is popular everywhere. It is in every corner in China. Here, it’s pretty Asian-style-like. People have an option of a private room.”

Owner Jason Wang, 26, who studied at the University of Miami, opened the place at 10720 W. Flagler St. in late September.

Wang says the location is a prime one because Florida International University is just a few minutes away.

“I have been an international student for a long time,” he said. “Karaoke is popular in China. It started in Japan. It is extremely popular. I want to cultivate the market, someday be successful at it. Why here? Because FIU is here, which is the largest university in Miami. Our targets are the University of Miami students, too.”

Huang said the location is a trip to her native country without the traveling.

“It feels like I am in China,” she said. “It’s a hobby for Asian people. We don’t drink or party a lot. It’s the Asian way.”

Karaoke started in Kobe City, Japan, and soon spread all over Asia and later the world. In Asian countries, typically, a group of friends or family rent a private room and sing karaoke for hours.

The location counts on six rooms, each representing different Asian cities including Beijing, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The smallest room fits up to eight people, with the largest accommodating up to 50.

Chandeliers line the hallways, luxurious furniture decorates the waiting and karaoke rooms, and the sounds of Asian karaoke singers blare through speakers.

“The decoration is luxurious,” Wang said. “But don’t get scared, it’s affordable.”

Inside the Japanese room, customers can sit on tatami floor.

Wang proudly says the store’s karaoke machines are top of the line.

“The machines have over 260,000 songs from all over the world,” he said. “But not too many Spanish songs. We have many English, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese. We have the most updated karaoke software.”

Chinese barbecue is available for purchase along with beer.

Prices start at $58 for three hours, which includes snacks and beverages.

If you go

What: La Shangrila Karaoke

Where: 10720 W. Flagler St. #14

Hours: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.