The ‘VIP’ area of Buffalo
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 21:10
To say that I know what’s best in Buffalo would be a lie. I’ve only been here as an international student for just over a year.
But I do know where to have an unforgettable night: VIP Karaoke.
Regular customers affectionately call it “VIP.” It is a karaoke bar and restaurant located along Maple Road. My friends and I address its two Korean owners as “Ahjussi” and “Ahjumma” – “uncle” and “aunt” in Korean.
Though I had been hearing about VIP since last fall, I didn’t visit it until I met my new roommates in the spring. I had no clue that my life would never be the same again.
In my first semester here, I attended classes, shopped online, did Pilates and ballet and lost a lot of weight.
In my second semester here, I attended classes, shopped online, joined The Spectrum, frequented VIP and gained a lot of weight.
Not everyone who frequents this karaoke bar – or joins The Spectrum – gains weight. But I happened to prioritize having muffins from Starbucks three times a week, which I claimed were rewards for attending 9 a.m. French classes. I also sought comfort in Cadbury chocolate bars – for which I blame my roommate Carol – and forgot the existence of a gym that was right next to our apartment – for which I blame my other roommate, Denise.
But let’s be real – I gained a couple of pounds from all the tasty Korean snacks I’d indulge in during our late-night trips to VIP.
The bar has a clientele of mainly Asian Americans and international students from places like Korea, Malaysia, Singapore or China.
Daryl Edwin Chong, a junior media study major and international student from Malaysia, calls VIP his “second home.” He said he enjoys the welcoming atmosphere of VIP and likes that “no one cares” if he sings too loudly.
The song list at VIP is extensive and available in Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese or Malay, according to Chong. The bar’s English song choices are up to date, too.
Adam Heng Jun Hee, a senior economics major and an international student from Malaysia, is no stranger to VIP. He prefers it to many local bars. VIP is “cozier,” and he enjoys how the parties held there are “just like house parties except with karaoke.”
Two of my good friends, M and J, are self-proclaimed rappers.
A night at VIP is incomplete without either of them “rapping” to Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” or Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “In Paris.”
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve sung a full song there. Customers fall into three categories: the drinkers, the singers and those who go both ways. I don’t fit anywhere.
Maybe it’s because I spend too much time making my friends exceed their alcohol tolerance and laughing once they start calling me hurtful things like “evil” or “bully.” I’m thankful to still call them my friends.
VIP is the only bar in Buffalo that serves “yogurt soju” and “soju bomb,” according to Chong and Hee. Either a yogurt drink or beer will be mixed with soju, which is the most famous type of alcohol in Korea, according to travel.cnn.com.
When it comes to special occasions – like weekends – my friends and I turn to VIP.
We recently had a birthday celebration for our friend, Zachary – who’s really the VIP of this bar – and the dress code was, “Suit Up.” It was probably a sight for patrons of Gin Gin Restaurant when eight of us entered in black suits at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night for some beef stir-fry before showing up at VIP.
That was probably one of my most memorable nights in Buffalo.
Before you visit VIP, it’s pertinent to always have a designated driver within your group of friends. My friends and I wouldn’t be the loyal patrons we are today if it wasn’t for the most reliable amongst us, B.
I also recommend having a hot bowl of pho at your favorite Vietnamese restaurant once you wake up the day after and realize you’ve left the VIP area on Maple Road. I thank my friend Alex for starting this tradition.
I will miss VIP once I leave the Queen City for good. But it’s also time I stick to regular yogurt instead of yogurt soju.