We Ate There... So You Don't Have To....

A few weeks ago, JMD, S. and I were on our way back from visiting Bird & Jen (Jen's welcome-home-coffee-hour), around dinnertime. As we were kicking around dinner ideas, one option was: ".... hey, what about that Tiki restaurant that you see from I-95?" Huh, sure... we were game. S. figured out the name and location on her iPhone; the place is Bali Hai, in Lynnfield. She even started reading us Yelp review--they were filled with snarky and amusing asides, and gave us a decent idea of what to expect:

The place is very retro, very dated, and the entryway has a smell of stale smoke. But it doesn't matter. The service was excellent. The decor is very classic, kitschy Polynesian. The food is ample and delicious. ....

If you can appreciate kitsch and like cheap food and drinks, and can designate a driver, this place is for you.


Like I said, I've never been to Bali Hai before. And upon entering, I also stumbled into some place I've never been before. The 1970s. In this case, though, that's not a bad thing. It makes for a good atmosphere. Polynesian Kitsch is what I'm gonna call it.

The food was alright. Nothing worth going here for alone. But it was cheap. There was a whole page of sub $5 menu items. But what's even cheaper than the food is the booze, and boy do they try to get you tanked! The drinks are just as fruity as any other chinese restaurants, with at least double the alcohol.

Okay: retro faux Polynesian and cheap drinks. Sure--worth a shot! Well, we got there, and my first reaction was, "Wow... it is a time warp!" A degree of sad rough-around-the-edgeness decay, with Powerball and Keno as the dominant notes of decor. Another thing in the lobby--a cigarette vending machine?!? Wow... I haven't seen one of them in ages.

So what do they have for cheap and potent retro-Polynesian drinks? Check out this Ty-D-Bol-esque combination. Cool. And wow... what a menu too!

Anyway, on to the food. Here's what $20 of appetizers ("Happy Talk Platter: Spare ribs, crab Rangoon, shrimp puffs, chicken wings") looked like.

Yeah, pretty terrifying. We barely put a dent into it, between the three of us. We also ordered another dish that involved chicken, Virginia ham (no lie!), and a fryolator. We had the exchange with our waitress: "It take long time." "Uh, really?" "20 minute." "No problem."

It ended up being hard nuggets of chicken wrapped around ham, fried into submission--kinda a chicken cordon jerky. Overall, I would describe the food as terrifyingly whitebread Chinese/Polynesian/kinda-Asian.

So overall, maybe with the right crowd--who would enjoy the hipster irony--this place would be entertaining. But our experience was mostly depressing (as well as heartburn-inducing). But like I wrote--we ate there... so you don't have to.


At 4:22 PM, Blogger da said...

On behalf of curious diners everywhere, we salute you.

That last pic is scary. It looks like the perspective is off, though in the end I guess it's just the huuuuge pile of food.

(Though, those crab rangoon look oversized, too.) I could imagine just going for drinks and crab rangoon appetizers! :)

At 2:02 PM, Blogger Christy said...

We went to a similar place down near Brockton. They served us white sliced bread (possibly Wonderbread) with butter. EVERYTHING had pineapple in it, and most items had at least trip through the fryolater. A fascinating cultural outing, but not to be repeated anytime soon!

At 7:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trader Vic's isn't bad. You might try it, sometime when you're visiting Chicago and in the right mood.


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