It’s 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday night, and I’m at a Aloha Kitchen on Decatur at Charleston. Actually, I’m at a bar that’s connected to the Hawaiian restaurant. The woman onstage is singing “Sweet Home Chicago,” and she’s changing 20 percent of the lyrics. But she says she’s from Chicago, and she’s got a great voice, so I can’t complain.
I order a Mai Tai ($7) and take a seat along the sea turtle silhouette-adorned wall to watch the next performer: a short white guy doing Louie Armstrong and gesturing with tissue paper.
When he’s done, emcee Makly Benjamin Prophete looks at me and smiles. The massive Haitian man wants me to sing. It’s karaoke night, and it’s my turn on the mic. I select “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and impress exactly no one.
“What’s the key to a great karaoke performance?” I ask.
“You can’t be too drunk, but you want everybody else to be,” Makly says.
If you visit Aloha Kitchen, you don’t have to drink, but you do have to try the Mix Plate, which consists of beef, chicken, fish and rice. And if you visit on a Saturday night, you have to ask Makly to sing “I Believe I Can Fly.” Actually, you don’t have to ask; he’ll probably do it anyway.