204 W. 55th St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-333-7799
The experience: Book a reservation and come after 11 p.m. (it opens at nine, but things don’t pick up until later). It’s a karaoke joint with table service and expensive food and drinks. For $20 per song, you can belt out a tune on a small stage, joined by dancers and backup singers.
The vibe: Like being at your cheesy, rich Russian friend’s wedding after-party—at a dark underground lair with disco lights and director’s chairs.
Most opulent drink order: Glass of Rémy Martin Louis XIII au Chocolat ($145). There’s also table service with bottles up to $7,000.
Greatest musical moment: A young Jelsomino singer, in tight pants and with a lightning bolt painted on his face, crooning to pass the time between paying customers’ songs.
Worst musical moment:Any time a group of drunk, beefy Russian guys hit the stage, sparkled-dress dancers in tow.
What’s pickled:Jar of “house-cured” pickles ($11).
Spot who’s really Russian: Their song selection contains a heavy dose of synthesizer.
Seated in the men’s room: A stylishly suited man passing the time with his iPhone, who turns on the faucet, squirts soap in your hand, and cheerfully compliments the nice weather we’re having.
Order like a local: No need; if you’re paying that much for a bottle, talk however you please.
Which Putin shows up? Shirtless, horse-riding Putin.
2670 Coney Island Ave., at Ave. X, Brighton Beach; 718-332-8111
The experience: Show up for dinner around 8:30 p.m. At nine, a long-haired, blond, Kenny G type plays a few songs on the sax, then the real show gets going: hours (and hours) of international hits, performed by a rotating cast of costume-changing singers and dancers.
The vibe: Like being at your cheesy, rich Russian friend’s wedding—at a large, all-red ballroom with a circular dance floor, surrounded by dinner tables.
Most opulent drink order: Bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal Brut ($420). Most of the bar menu is wine, though you can get a bottle of Russian vodka for $75.
Greatest musical moment: A Russian Skrillex-looking guy singing “Brinca” by the merengue Latin band El Simbolo, as what appeared to be a birthday party full of Asian twentysomethings danced along.
Worst musical moment: “Hit the Road, Jack,” featuring two female dancers wearing matching Dick Tracy suits and carrying mismatched suitcases.
What’s pickled: A vegetable plate ($15). Do not—repeat, nyet!—eat the cherry tomato, which is basically a fetid water balloon.
Spot who’s really Russian: They’re the five couples dancing to the one Russian ballad of the night
Seated in the men’s room: An old Russian man passing the time with a newspaper, who hands you paper towels, then points to the bathroom stereo playing dance music, makes a face, and says, “Ehhh.”
Order like a local: Vodka comes in grams; order 50 grams for a shot.
Which Putin shows up? Suit-wearing, heat-packing Putin.