Tiki Central / Locating Tiki
Bali Hai, Lynnfield, MA (restaurant)
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Name:Bali Hai, Lynnfield, MA
[ Edited by: tikigreg 2014-10-19 09:24 ]
Thanks for posting this.
Here are couple more pix:
Bali Hai Mugs (there are more, but these are the two I was able to get while there).
I had a couple of mai tais there and sampled their egg rolls. Not bad, but nothing to write home about. Pretty strong mai tais but the bar was more of sports lounge rather than tiki. Still worth a visit if you're in the area.
Just stopped by there last week. Same review from me. I will add that the drinks are not only strong, but relatively inexpensive, $4-5 a pop. I got the same two mugs (the signature mug still had its OMC label) for $7.50 apiece.
At 4:30 in the p.m., it was tough to get a feel for the place. There were about a half dozen folks in the lounge. Nice folks, but definitely there to look at the tube. Nobody in the restaurant.
Humuhumu - Please add to Critiki when you get a chance.
If anyone has a hankering to take some pics of all of the light fixtures in there and post them, I'd sure appreciate it.
i appreciate the updating of this thread.. we'll be in New England in october ~ i'll take pictures (new camera, hope they turn out ok!)
Dogbytes, thanks in advance for any attempt you may make. The pics don't need to be great. I'm just trying to identify major types and variations of Orchids of Hawaii lamps and this place looks like its got a lot of them. So far I can identify the ones I call hex multi, dodecahedron, and cage. There are parts of at least five others I can't see enough of to ID.
Hey, anyone know when the place was built?
we had a nice dinner at the Bali Hai ~ ordered the Treasure Island (Lobsster, shrimp, chicken, beef and roast pork, sauteed with vegetables, served over rice (chow fun) noodles, garnished with fried won tons. also enjoyed the pyrotechnic display of the Flaming Ambrosia
i didnt see tikis, but there were at least 2 of each of these lamps. bought the menu and both mugs. sorry that the pictures arent the greatest, realize that im only 5'2", so the angle is odd.
glad to see this cantonese restaurant survive ~ its not far from the splashier Kowloon. similar menu items also huge portions with lots of meat.
another shell lamp
Dogbytes, great pics - thanks! I've never seen about half of those types.
Shortly after visiting Kowloon up the road, my brother, Dad & I went to Bali Hai. They're just a few miles apart, an incredible tiki 2=for-1 if you're in Massachusetts. We took the recommendation to eat at Kowloon, which had a huge range of food. The Bali Hai was a bit more divey, although to be fair we were there at 10pm on a Thursday night, and mainly it was locals about. A couple of women asked me if I was a tourist (while taking pictures), and I said, "Nope, just a fan of tiki bars" for some reason. Drinks were great, and I got the 2 mugs that are pictured above, both with their original Otagiri stickers- wow! They also sold me a "souvenir" drinks menu, although they had to search awhile to find the least damaged one of the lot in circulation.
Here are the shots I got:
Overview of the main dining room, which was empty. The huge lightbox in the back is a luau scene - very cool. The lamps have been very well documented in this thread already.
A view of the lobby, as you walk towards the door:
The sign over the door - they should make a mug out of that face!
A bit of the drinks menu cover
Impressive detail in the wrought-iron railings on either side of the door. Which are probably going to be blocked by smokers if you visit.
Not sure what happened to the first part of this sign:
Mugs still available as of July 2005!
A closer look at the large luau lightbox:
You can see my Kowloon photos from the same trip here:
Thanks to everyone in the recent thread who helped us to decide which one to eat at! I think we made the right choice.
I managed to find a site for the Bali Hai:
I've passed this place so many times on my way to the White Mountains but it always looked closed. The fam and I are heading north again this weekend but this time I'm stopping! Hopefully I can score a couple of mugs.
The wife and I made the trek up to Bali Hai for dinner this past Friday. Aside from the exterior, cool mugs and nifty old-school tiki drink menu, I was fairly disappointed.
The interior decor is very bland. Yes, the lamps and lightbox scene are cool, but they form the entirety of tiki-related decorations in the entire place. The remainder of the decor screams "crummy Chinese restaurant!"
The drinks were strong, but unremarkable. Although they arrived in different mugs, the Bali Hai tasted exactly the same as the Fog Cutter.
The food was fairly good, but the pu-pu platter did not come with the little grill that forms the centerpiece of any tiki appetizer.
The service was impatient and not overly friendly.
Overall, I'd still recommend that any Bostonians interested in Tiki bars check out Bali Hai. As bland as the experience was, one has to have realistic expectations. Beggars can't be choosers; there just aren't many tiki palaces still in existence. Besides, the mugs are pretty cool (yes, I bought one of each for $7.50 per). That said, the Kowloon provides Bostonians with a much more enjoyable escapist Tiki experience.
Been to the Bali Hai and Kowloon a number of times. Unfortunately, I've never had any luck at Kowloon. Looks great, but the food and drinks have never been very good. Bali Hai was really good about 5 years ago, but has steadily gone down hill to the point that I don't think I stopped there last time I was in the area.
That said, if you haven't gone to either, definitely worth taking a chance whenever you're in the Boston area.
My wahine and I went to the Bali Hai last night on our way back to Maine from IKEA. :)
I was not expecting much, so I am glad to say it exceeded those expectations.
It's not an amazing place, but it is certainly sincere. It's not trying to hard to be anything more than a polynesian-feeling place with some nice decor, decent food and a bland bar.
The food was better than I expected, and in fact the teriyaki beef was the best I have had since I left Seattle 6 years ago. And they did give us a lot of food for the money.
The drinks were, as others have said, quite strong and for only $4, one can get drunk pretty quick. in fact, this was the first time I EVER had to ask my wife to drive home! And I only had two drinks!
They also did sell me two mugs. One was the aforementioned Bali Hai signature mug, and they also sold me a crossed-arm bisque mug with their name printed on the back.
What they wouldn't sell me was what the Suffering Bastard arrived in because they said they don't have enough to sell.
It's a modern mug, but it has their name printed on the back. I had my camera phone, so I took these pictures:
A couple things I liked better about the Bali Hai than the Kowloon is that we didn't have to wait forever (it was a Sunday evening and it was about 1/3 full) and the food is arguably better. And hell, the drinks are cheaper, even if they aren't well defined.
So I would go back.
It's really great to hear a good report about Bali Hai.
I had the often mentioned bad experience with the food but good experience with the booze, but I was there very late at night, and ordered some typical appetizers that might have had some age to them.
I wind up driving by there quite often so I'm definitely giving it some more chances! I actually drove right by it the night you were there and wondered if you were still there (around 10:00) but I couldn't stop because I drive an '81 VW Vanagon Camper that hasn't been liking this cold much and is never guaranteed to start again.
Thanks for the post, it offers a new hope!
[ Edited by: The Granite Tiki 2007-02-20 15:33 ]
A menu from my collection:
Spotted this cool old matchbook on ebay a while back from the Bali Hai with a nice illustration of the A-Frame entrance.
The back of the matchbook has this rendering of the Tiki from the front of the building. Anybody guess the country/region of origin for this style?
I'm guessing Indonesia. Perhaps they couldn't find any art from the fictitious Polynesian isle of Bali Hai, but they found - and used - a mask from the island of Bali.
Went here today when they opened at noon and got a Mai Tai, some Crab Rangoon, and noodles. The Mai Tai wasn’t amazing, but it was made with rum, orgeat, and orange curaçao. It was pre batched, but still decent. The crab Rangoon and noodles were good as well. Nothing insanely special, but good! I didn’t see any mugs, but on the way out, saw some under a glass case by the front register. They no longer use them at were selling the remaining ones for $7.50. I bought two! Will add photos when I’m home on my computer!
Been home this week on vacation, and after two abortive attempts to eat at Kowloon (due to menu issues), finally decided to give Bali Hai a try.
Bali Hai is a place I remember from the 1970s, seeing it every time the folks drove up 128 on the way to the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers.
The restaurant's yellow sign was one of the few lighted landmarks I used to look out for on the way back home (along with a nearby Sunoco sign and neon Elks Club sign that are also both still visible from the highway).
The sound wall that now lines 128 blocks view of the Bali Hai sign, but if you can find your way to Moulton Drive, it's still there in all its 1970s glory.
Anyway, after never eating at this restaurant for more than 40 years, FINALLY gave it a try.
Glad I did.
It's definitely an older place. But, the carpet was clean and the vinyl seats in the booth we sat in looked somewhat new.
Got a Scorpion bowl for two and it was POTENT! God, was it potent!
We ordered the Bali Hai platter (a plate of appetizers, piled HIGH for under $20), plus an order of Peking Raviolis for $5.
Boston-style Chinese food...strong drinks...old-school decor...all for CHEAP money. (Our waitress was attentive, humorous, and earned her 25-percent tip.)
So, including the tip, the entire meal was only $60, and that price includes an order of shrimp lo mein I got to go (along with the leftover appetizers).
Also bought two vintage Bali Hai mugs for $7.50 each as we were leaving.
Has the Bali Hai seen better days? Obviously.
But, the fact this place has managed to survive in these days of the gentrification of Rt. 1 and the entire North Shore area, is nothing short of miraculous. You should definitely check it out before it inevitably succumbs to the times.
So glad to see current good reviews of this place! I also used to live in the area, but it's been ages since I was back. Makes me happy to know they're still going. It's fun to hear that they're still so cheap, too. I was there once with several friends and we were ordering all sorts of crazy-named drinks - "even if you hate it, who cares? It's $3.50!"
(Hope the issues at Kowloon weren't anything major?)
The "menu issues" I had at Kowloon were nothing major, but were irksome to me just the same.
After flying to Boston from Tokyo on a 13-hour flight, I was cranky and VERY hungry. After clearing immigration and customs, getting my rental car, THEN driving up route 1A and route 1, I was not too thrilled to learn that Kowloon doesn't serve combination plates after 5pm.
(Since I wasn't about to order four different full-sized boxes of food, ended up getting a pizza down the street at Polcari's/Pizzeria Regina.)
The next day, I was still craving Boston-style Chinese food, so headed off of Kowloon and got there 5 minutes after they opened.
The teriyaki nuggets were unavailable has they had "sold out the night before"...
Getting denied two days in a row kind of soured me on Kowloon, which lead me to giving Bali Hai a try.
Speaking of which...
I went back again tonight for a take-out order, as I return to Tokyo tomorrow.
Got a combination plate with teriyaki beef, pork chow mein, and fried rice, all for something like $6.50.
I'd say the food was way more flavorable than the stuff Kowloon sells, and Bali Hai's beef teriyaki strips have be the best ones I've ever had. They were flavorful, nicely cooked, and so tender. Nothing like the leather-like strips of meat many places serve.
While I sat waiting for my order, a few locals can in and the restaurant staff greeted them by name. This gave the Bali Hai a homey feeling that the Kowloon totally lacks.
Ah, dud that you couldn't get what you wanted at Kowloon. But glad Bali Hai was there to satisfy the itch.
But now you've got me dreaming of Regina's pizza!
You also know Pizzeria Regina? It's a must-visit every time I go home to the Boston area. (If I have the time, I try to go to the one on Thatcher St. in the North End, but the Polcari's on Rt. 1 was a decent enough alternative.)
FWIW, if anyone is looking for a hotel suggestion for the area, I recommend the Homewood Suites in Peabody. It's right on Rt. 1 North – a couple of miles down the road from Kowloon (and Polcari's). The Bali Hai is less than a mile away.
The hotel has a hot breakfast buffet every morning, free light dinners from Monday to Thursday, and they even have a real popcorn maker in the lobby so you can help yourself to a complimentary bag any time you'd like. (The rooms are all 1-bedroom suites with full kitchens.)
Highway access to the hotel from 128/I-95 is also a snap as there is a special access road that juts off the ramp to Rt. 1 North. (It's amazing how much time was saved by using that little shortcut.)
Got back to Tokyo last night. Hopefully, Bali Hai will still be around the next time I head back to the States. While it's not as iconic as Kowloon is to the area, I think its lower prices, more-flavorful food (what I ate, anyway), and generous amounts of alcohol in their cocktails, make it a good bet (if not better).
I'm really glad I finally got around to eating at Bali Hai. Memories of their teriyaki beef strips and Peking ravioli are still making my mouth water.
I lived on Salem street for several years so am very familiar with the Thatcher Street Regina's (and used to give directions to my place in typical manner - "when you get to that corner where Polcari's used to be...") :)
Unfortunately all my family in MA has moved so I won't get back to visit for some time.
Michelle66, if you crave Boston-style Chinese food and you ever make it to Cape Cod, get to Tiki Port. Great vintage decor, food is pretty excellent and the drinks are well done. They serve a mean London Sour. That gets little mention on TC but it's a Trader Vic invention and one of our favorite exotic cocktails. If you like Scotch, have one!
Thanks! If I'm ever on the cape, I'll need to try them out. (A friend of mine lives on the cape, so I'll mention it to him.)
As for London Sours, they are readily here in Tokyo. (Trader Vic's at the New Otani Hotel is just a 20-minute train ride away!)
I just returned to Japan after spending a week back home in the Boston area.
And that meant two huge meals at Bali Hai (which has supplanted Kowloon as my go-to restaurant).
Both meals were tasty, cheap, and were washed down with potent scorpion bowls. The service was friendly, and the off-peak times we were there allowed us to just relax and enjoy what might have been our final visits to the place...
You see, the restaurant is now on borrowed time and will likely be demolished for new construction soon... (A proposal to build a block of luxury apartments was recently rejected by the zoning board, but something is sure to give in the future.)
Since Bali Hai might be gone next year when I heard back home, I was sure gonna enjoy this year!
Here's the food from the first night (my first meal after a 12-hour flight!). A pu-pu platter, some shrimp lo-mein, and (from the Polynesian section of the menu) a tasty dish called "Delights of Three" (chicken, beef, and shrimp, cooked with bok choy and water chestnuts):
And the high-octane scorpion bowl for two (very drinkable and only $12.50!):
After dining, I talked a bit with the hostess (a friendly woman named Elaine). She was happy we were so taken with the place, so she went out back and got us each an old souvenir menu (shown earlier in this thread).
I had bought a set of the Bali Hai mugs on sale in the front display case last year, but asked if it might be possible to buy a pair of the Bali Hai plates.
She said it would be OK, but that they'd be used (fine with me!).
Elaine told me that the plates have a metal interior, which makes them extremely strong and why the restaurant still uses them after 40+ years. (A google search showed that the manufacturer ("Jackson Custom China") went out of business in the mid-80's, which makes Bali Hai's continued use of the vintage plates that much more impressive.)
We ate again at the restaurant two nights before heading back to Japan (so, the leftovers could be eaten the next day instead of wasting them).
Stated with a plate of Peking dumplings, and one of teriyaki beef strips. We got the "Delights of Three" again, and an item originally on the vintage menu called "Bali Hai Volcano". (Based on its name, I assume the dish once had a more elaborate presentation. Now, the waitress gets the dish sizzling on a pre-heated cast iron plate.)
The meal was another good one! (But, I love this kind of old-school, suburban-USA, Chinese food. No hifalutin "fusion" or new-age cuisine here. 1970's-style food, at 1970's-style prices. My kind of place!)
We dropped by on Friday night to pick up the plates, and got there during their busy time. The dining room was quite full, and the bar area was loud and boisterous. It made me sad to think that all of the regulars who obviously love the restaurant might have to find someplace else to go.
So, if you're in the area, head to Bali Hai before it gets gentrified out of existence. You'll be glad you did! (Seriously. While Kowloon has its more-elaborate decor going to it, Bali Hai's food is a lot more flavorful, and pretty much half the price. And, Bali Hai does NOT skimp on the alcohol! (Kowloon's drinks are pretty much just straight juice.)
Here's one of the Bali Hai plates I bought:
I just learned that Bali Hai suddenly closed its doors for good on December 30th...
(Well, that really sucks. I’d planned to eat there next month during a quick trip back to Boston. Guess the Kowloon will have to do...)
I was very sad to see that, as well. Here's a newspaper story for posterity:
LYNNFIELD — The Bali Hai has served its last Scorpion Bowl.
After more than 40 years, James and Lillie Yee posted a sign on the front door of the Moulton Drive diner over the weekend thanking customers for their patronage.
Called a hidden gem because it was shielded from Route 128 by an 18-foot soundproof wall, the Polynesian restaurant has seen business fade as customers sought more upscale alternatives at nearby MarketStreet or traditional favorites like Kowloon in Saugus.
The last plate of chicken fingers and Peking raviolis were served on Sunday. Boston Restaurant Talk first reported the news.
Patrons took to Facebook to to praise or zing the landmark eatery.
“Will miss Bali Hai so much … lots of memories there growing up,” wrote Danielle Caprio.
“Horrible, this will be the loss of a great American icon, the Polynesian restaurant. Lester, we will miss you and your family,” said Jay Kimball.
“I’m gonna miss my stomping grounds,” wrote Jerine D. Martin. “Been going since my Dad took me when I was 10-years-old.”
Maryanne Lecouras from Danvers wrote she would miss it too. “Family took us there when we were young. I had my junior and senior prom after hours at the Bali … always loved it.”
The beginning of the end for the 275-seat eatery started in 2016 when the Yee family listed the property for $2.5 million.
Since then, at least two buyers have shown interest. Monastiero Development proposed a four-story, 68-unit apartment building to replace the restaurant. But the plan was rejected by neighbors who said the complex would exacerbate an already congested part of town.
Nearly two years later, Lynnfield twins Matthew and David Palumbo presented a scaled back proposal for 32 apartments priced from $2,200 to $3,300 in a three-story, wood-frame building. But that too got a thumbs-down from neighbors and the Planning Board.
The brothers returned last fall with an even smaller plan that reduced the number of units to 23 and lowered the height of the building to two stories. But the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) rejected it in November.
Ted Regnante, attorney for the Palumbos, said his clients filed an appeal with Land Court in Boston last week to overturn the ZBA decision. That decision could take up to two years, he said.
In the meantime, the Palumbos expect to close on the 1.4-acre property at the South Essex Registry of Deeds on Monday. They will renovate the restaurant and lease it to a new operator until the case is settled, Regnante said.
The Palumbos have said if the apartment project fails to win approval, they would demolish the Bali Hai and build a new restaurant.
The Yee family could not be reached for comment.
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