clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
The VIP room at Live-K can fit up to 40 guests.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Filed under:

The Wharf’s Futuristic Karaoke Bar Looks Straight Out of ‘Tron’

Live-K flicked on along the Southwest Waterfront on Friday, December 16

Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Between dramatic LED-lit displays, frenetic video walls, and high-tech karaoke rooms, the Wharf’s new Live-K is the family-friendly neighborhood’s most aggressive late-night addition yet.

The 6,000-square-foot, maze-like marbled venue welcomed its first crooners on Friday, December 16 (730 Maine Avenue SW). Its 40-person VIP room can be rented for $268 per hour, and smaller 10-person rooms start at $68 (no minimum spend). In need of more liquid courage before hitting the mic? The tap of a “service” button lights up the karaoke room’s number at the bar to alert staff.

Live-K comes from Chinese-American real estate investor Chris Zhu, who owns and operates China Garden in Rockville and dim sum chain Han Palace in Tysons Corner, Woodley Park, and Barracks Row. Live-K’s Japanese-leaning menu specializes in street snacks like takoyaki, gyoza, spicy honey barbecue wings, grilled meat skewers, beef donburi, noodle soups, and truffle fries, plus mochi ice cream and bubble teas.

A mega-screen display zooms across the ceiling upon entry, showcasing all sorts of darting cartoonish graphics and bursts of color. The beverage program is equally fast-paced, made up of all batched cocktails ($16) to ensure speedy service to singers and bar patrons. Large-format bottles ($95-$190) fill up to 13 glasses. Highlights include a white Negroni, mezcal Old Fashioned, and Passion-K (Bacardi, falernum, passion fruit, lime, and nutmeg). There’s also wines, beer, and bottle service that includes lots of tequila options and clubby bubbly like Ace of Spades ($900).

Another pricey attraction at the glowing gold bar is a row of four rare Bearbrick figurines. The cult pop art collectables made by Japanese toy giant Medicom cost well into the five figures (its Coco Chanel bear can sell for $75,000). Past the bar, a slick black corridor illuminated with neon vertical tubes houses private portals for groups of four to 40. Book until as late as 3 a.m. on weekends.

Karaoke rooms at Live-K are tucked past shimmering doors.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Karaoke has been a longtime form of entertainment for Zhu and her four siblings.

“In 1992, our family was very early to have a karaoke [machine] at home. It’s why we love to sing,” she tells Eater.

Zhu’s brother was the manager of Chinatown’s karaoke bar Wok and Roll for eight years, she says, and “always wanted to have a bigger, brand new” spot in the city. First up was Ginza Karaoke Spot & BBQ Lounge, which opened this fall on Barracks Row.

Their newest family affair at the Wharf is outfitted with 11 entertainment rooms, plus a main stage for open karaoke near the bar. A live DJ spins up front every Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Also commanding attention from the street: shiny, six-foot bear statues from China, standing prominently behind its glassy facade.

Hours are Sunday to Thursday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Friday and Saturday until 3 a.m.

Spin a party wheel to “take a shot”; “finish your drink”; and “throw in an extra $20” for the tab.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Coming Attractions

One of the Country’s Best Wine Shops Is Coming to Shaw

Coming Attractions

Peter Chang Supersizes His Sole D.C. Menu, Maps Out Four New Area Openings

WETA’s ‘Signature Dish’ Offers a Genuine Glimpse Inside DMV Dining