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Travelogue: Lucky Cheng’s Drag Queen Karaoke in New York City

Okay, so these Groupon and Living Social deals can really get addictive. We all know that. But because of them, Navdeep and I have definitely had some experiences we wouldn’t have otherwise indulged in — ice climbing, anyone?

Another case in point: Lucky Cheng’s Drag Queen karaoke on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, largely the bastion of alcohol-fueled, giggle-heavy bachelorette parties and birthdays. A straight guy’s no man’s land. Still, when they offered up a two-for-one deal on Living Social, I convinced Navdeep we should give it a go. And just for amusement, he said okay. At the very least, it would be a nice Chinese dinner, right?

Once we got there, we realized why no one ever really talks about the food. Our waitress Deondra was tall (her six-foot-plus frame made even more towering by four-inch heels), sassy and all-business. She didn’t take kindly to questions Navdeep and I peppered her with about the menu — because apparently you weren’t really supposed to be there for the food! And when we failed to order any drinks, well, that just put us on the top of her shit list. Okay, not really. She was perfectly nice in a cranky-drag-queen-waitress sort of way. But later, she added her own tip, lest we non-drinkers (for the night) gyp her the full 20 percent. The deal was two appetizers, two entrees, and dessert.

We ordered the pupu platter, which had two light, crisp spring rolls, two cold, bland summer rolls, a pile of cold sesame noodles, some decently nuanced baby back ribs and the worst plate of what passes for calamari I have experienced in my life. It was clearly the frozen stuff — and poorly fried, with not a crisp edge in sight. I still can’t believe we paid four extra bucks for that! The entrees weren’t much better. I got seared steak with lemongrass — and couldn’t taste the lemongrass or any other hint of actual flavor. Navdeep got the lemon mint grilled chicken, topped with mango-papaya salsa. He couldn’t find a hint of lemon or mint either.

Anyway, as Navdeep and I shouted over the noise to compare notes on how badly the food sucked, the show started. And it’s clear that this is where your money’s going. The ladies — and funnily enough, the main attractions were a Japanese drag queen and her Chinese counterpart — were fun, feisty and forward, getting the whole crowd into the action. And yes, it was bachelorette party central, but being perfectly sober while everyone around you is completely blottoed is an entertaining experience in itself, especially when it came time to start belting out those old Bon Jovi songs (you bet there were Jersey girls in the house). Add a few live-out-loud, larger-than-life drag queens to the mix, and you’ve got one hell of a show.

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