One of the added perks of bringing a karaoke bar on campus is giving students who miss it the most a piece of home. In Mandarin, the pronunciation of hsiang is both “enjoy” and “miss”.
Juanita Philips / THE REVIEW

BY
Senior reporter

In August 2020, Newark got its first karaoke bar: Hsiang (pronounced “Shong”). Owner Jason Chen, a former Blue Hen, said he opened the bar because he wished he had access when he was in college.

“I think that’s missing here,” said Chen. “It’s pretty common in big cities like New York or Philly, but there’s nothing here. I like to go karaoke and every time I have to go to Philadelphia. “

One of the added perks of bringing a karaoke bar on campus is giving students who miss it the most a piece of home. In Mandarin, the pronunciation of hsiang is both “enjoy” and “miss”.

“We want all Chinese students [at] OUT [to feel] the same as it used to be in China, ”said Chen. “And also everyone who is new to the concept [to] enjoy your experience here in Hsiang. Hence the name. “

Hsiang offers bespoke stir-fry dishes and salad bowls. Customers can come in and choose which ingredients they want, similar to honeygrow or roots.

The inside of the Hsiang karaoke bar.
Juanita Philips / THE REVIEW

According to Chen, Hsiang offers a more authentic karaoke experience. While some American karaoke bars have a stage that anyone can stand on, Hsiang has private rooms that groups can sing in.

“We have invested a lot [in] the sound equipment, ”said Chen. “All walls between the rooms are soundproof. Once you close the door, you won’t hear other people singing. “

While Chen expected mostly Asian students to come to his bar for an authentic experience, he was surprised to see American students as well.

“With COVID, most international students are no longer here,” said Chen. “So [surprisingly]We have more American students here. We didn’t expect that. We mainly expected Asian students. “

Opening it in the middle of a pandemic wasn’t an easy task. While Chen said they never thought of postponing their opening, he admits they had problems in the beginning.

Juanita Philips / THE REVIEW

“[Two months after we opened]the state was closed for three weeks, ”said Chen. “So we were closed as soon as we opened it. It was a very difficult time. “

Regarding COVID-19, Chen said they are taking precautions to make sure everyone is safe.

“We check everyone’s temperature before they walk in the door,” said Chen. “You don’t have to wear masks in rooms [because] They are all private groups. We disinfect every time a group leaves and we use UV light for ten minutes to disinfect the room. “

As a fan of karaoke himself, Chen said he thought it was a good stress reliever, especially during the pandemic when people have reported high levels of stress.

“It’s very unique and it’s like a way to open your heart,” said Chen. “Everyone in the room is your close friend, or at least someone you know. And all you can do is scream – you don’t have to worry about being yourself. “