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Tiki Central Forums » » Locating Tiki » » Bali Hai, San Diego, CA (Restaurant)
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Bali Hai, San Diego, CA (Restaurant)
johnman
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 18, 2005
Posts: 452
From: RI
Posted: 2005-10-24 8:24 pm   Permalink

My wahine and I took a trip out to SoCAL last week and hit the Bali Hai while in SD. Here's a quick rundown...

I read there weren't many tikis left in this place, but there seemed to be plenty when I went (yes, the dining area is bare). The view of San Diego bay was gorgeous. The food was good. The wahine got the Beef and Pea-pods, I got the Chicken of the Gods.

As for the important stuff (aka drinks) I knocked out two here. Numero uno, the Bali Hai Mai Tai. This drink truly was "out of this world".

Next I tested out their Navy Grog. One word: strong! It tasted good too but you really knew the rum was in it (nothing wrong with that of course). This was my first NG so I don't have much to compare it too - it will make a great benchmark though.

The drink prices were very reasonable too, if I remember correctly both drinks were under $7. What a bargain.

I only wish there was someplace in RI that treated tiki drinks with respect. The best Mai Tai you'll get here is white and tastes nothing like a Mai Tai - argh, when will the revolution begin.

[ This Message was edited by: johnman 2005-10-24 20:25 ]


 
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alohabros
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 04, 2004
Posts: 533
From: westernus
Posted: 2005-10-25 07:54 am   Permalink

... bali hai - one of the best values in sd... regulars tend to be the local sailing set, not so much tiki folks... sailing in & outside sd bay, then docking at the bh... great way to finish the day... make sure your skipper has not been drinking though... no overnight docking...


 
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hodadhank
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Dec 28, 2005
Posts: 1686
From: Mission Beach, CA
Posted: 2006-01-04 08:38 am   Permalink

Living barely ten minutes from the place, I go to Shelter Island's Bali Hai as often as possible, and would favorably compare their signature drinks to any I've sucked up in NorCal. We actually had visitors from the SF Bay Area the week after Christmas an since they always take us to Vic's in Emeryville or the Tonga Room at the Fairmont, I enjoyed the opportunity to show them around our own SoCal tiki paradise.

At night the two lane Shelter Island Drive itself feels mysterious and exotic beginning with the torches and palms at Trader Mort's. Lined with dark towering A-frames, palm trees and boat masts, it feels less like a millionaire's yacht basin than a deserted Polynesian village. They gasped as we neared the roundabout that separates The Bali Hai from Humphrey's Half Moon Inn.(The Half Moon is spectacular at night.)

Although rarely packed, Its good to reserve a window table just in case, even if you're just having pupus and cocktails. From the dining room, the panoramic view of San Diego's city lights reflected in the dark bay is always breathtaking. At our candle lit table nestled under one of the rooms huge diagonal pillars, we ordered a non-flaming pupu platter (I'll have to ask next time if I can BMOS (bring my own Sterno!)) served in a towering superstructure with coconut shrimp, crab cakes, wonton nachos, egg rolls, BBQ spare ribs and two extra plates of shrimp and ribs. My favorite BH drink is their tasty Navy Grog. My girl had a Missionary's Downfall and our guests ordered a Planter's Punch and their unconventional "World Famous Bali Hai Mai Tai" boasting NO FRUIT JUICE ADDED which arrived sporting a frozen pineapple slice and orchid! The last place I had an orchid flower floating in my Mai Tai was on Waikiki Beach!

The BH's mostly Chicano wait staff is friendly, attentive and apparently embraces the notion of "tapas" so they were happy to have us order several rounds, suck em up and snack. Thoroughly buzzed and on our way out, we sneaked into the quiet banquet room downstairs where i understand a full scale Polynesian floor show was preformed to bid aloha to the lingering essence of Arthur Lyman...Our friends loved it.

Next time maybe the Hanalei or Mr Tiki's.


(BTW which Lyman album was recorded at the Bali Hai?)


[ This Message was edited by: hodadhank 2006-01-04 08:41 ]


 
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MrBaliHai
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 01, 2002
Posts: 799
Posted: 2006-01-04 10:11 am   Permalink

Since I lifted my nom de internets from the Bali Hai along with my weblog mascot, I feel that I should chime in. I went there for the first time a couple of years ago when I was teaching a class at the Naval Air Station on Coronado Island. It was Christmastime, and the annual regatta of sailboats festooned with holiday lights paraded right past the big windows of the restaurant as I was sipping my before-dinner Mai Tai. Just doesn't get any better than that. The drinks were pretty good, but the flavors aren't quite as balanced as they are at Vic's, so the rum tends to be a tad overpowering. Still, much better than average. I had the Kona Combo for dinner, which was very good, and the service was excellent throughout.

I took my whole family to SD in 2004, also during Christmastime. Unfortunately, we arrived right as a giant storm was moving in, and it was extremely windy with rough seas, so no sailboat regatta this time, but the food, drinks, and service were again excellent.
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Slacks Ferret
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 1263
From: Calgary
Posted: 2007-04-17 9:55 pm   Permalink


June 29, 2006


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11159
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-04-18 11:52 am   Permalink

I dunno, I prefer this look:



Hey, I propose to strike that misleading "Sam Choy's" from the header of this thread, it is outdated for several years now, and it was never really "his"!



 
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GatorRob
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1770
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2007-04-19 12:27 pm   Permalink

Ooooh, love that vintage pic. It's hard to tell from the more recent picture, but is there much of a difference other than the green awnings and, of course, the hip car? I know the big Mr Bali Hai carving was restored not too long ago. I do like the look without the awnings... looks like a big film reel.

 
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tikithomas08
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 10, 2007
Posts: 528
From: San Diego CA
Posted: 2007-04-24 4:23 pm   Permalink

im going here for prom on saturday, im glad i live in san diego

 
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TikiGardener
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2002
Posts: 1361
From: 1st website dedicated to Tiki Gardens
Posted: 2007-04-24 8:43 pm   Permalink

The "Hip Car" Is a Messerschmitt KR 200


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messerschmitt_KR200

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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11159
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-04-24 9:30 pm   Permalink

".... including a steering bar reminiscent of that of an aircraft..." They essentially were German fighter plane cockpits on wheels

 
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tikimitch
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 38
From: West Chester, OH
Posted: 2007-04-27 11:04 am   Permalink

The Bali Hai is a class act! I recently took the family on a trip to San Diego and we made the trek to the Bali Hai. Imagine my disappointment when I ordered the Mr. Bali Hai drink(with signature mug) and was told they were out of stock. Major bummer!! Upon my return home, I contacted them to give them some feedback on the experience. HERE IS THE GOOD PART!!! They sent me an email a few days later saying they were very sorry and could they have my mailing address .... HMMMM interesting I thought. Just yesterday I received a package in the mail from the Bali Hai - it was TWO sets of Mr. Bali Hai salt and pepper shakers!! Very Cool indeed. In my experience, this is way above and beyond what any other restaraunt would do. Please continue to patronize this establishment. I will certainly make a return visit if I ever get to San diego again.

 
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Kenike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 24, 2003
Posts: 1205
From: McKinney, TX
Posted: 2007-07-18 5:24 pm   Permalink

I’m just back from a five-day trip to San Diego and got to visit the Bali Hai four times. Not a ton ‘o tiki, but enough to warrant checking it out…if not for the tiki then certainly for the historical significance. I spent a lot of time at the bar, ate a couple of meals and got to meet a few of the regulars. Here are my impressions after visiting just four times:

As I think was mentioned earlier, the crowd mostly consists of guys with boats and women who dig guys with boats. Most of the friendly boaters seem to be from out of town, but I did come upon some local boaters who were just there to drink beer and start a fight with anyone from TX.

During my first visit and my first drink, a regular told me I needed to get a Mai Tai because he said the Bali Hai “makes a classic Mai Tai the way they’re supposed to be made.” I thought, “Hmmm, this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but what the hell.” The bartender warned me that they were strong and he wasn’t kidding. I watched him make several more after mine…fill a glass with ice, pour in unmeasured amounts of light rum and dark rum, top with water and stir. That’s basically it…rum and ice. I didn’t like it at all but people were buying them by the boatloads! An acquired taste? Possibly, but then I took a closer look at the drink menu: “Coruba Jamaican Dark Rum, Ron Rico Light Rum, Orange Liqueur & Sweet and Sour.” I can tell you there was definitely no orange liqueur or sweet & sour, just rum and ice. I didn’t say anything to the bartenders because no one likes a wise ass, but DAMN! These were awful, or I should say most unpleasant to me. Then on my last night there I watched the barkeep make someone another Mai Tai. To my amazement, HE added the orange liquor AND Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Mix. I don’t mind so much that he used a Trader Vic’s product at the Bali Hai, but it did bother me that the drinks are not consistent (plus the menu says “sweet & sour” which TV’s Mai Tai Mix is not). Were the other bartenders just cutting corners? Who knows. I also noticed that none of the drinks were shaken…not even the ones with lots of fruit juice…just pored into a glass and occasionally stirred. To some people I’m sure it doesn’t matter but to me it did.

I did try the Navy Grog, the Goof Punch and the Zombie, all listed as STRONG on the drink menu and they all were. Missionary’s Downfall was OK but nothing like the original. Planters Punch didn’t taste too strong but was definitely potent. Aloha Kiss was WAY too sweet for me. The clear winners were the Singapore Sling and the Mr. Bali Hai, which comes with or without the mug. Those were the only two I drank more than once. The Mr. Bali Hai is an exceptional drink and one I would highly recommend.

And speaking of the drink menu, why so boring? I can certainly understand the need to save $$$ where you can and these are not printed on any high gloss laminated paper…just a heavy matte. Still, they could have zazzed it up a bit. I’m no graphic artist, but it wouldn’t take much to make it a little more appealing:






Also had a couple of appetizers: Hawaiian Nachos were very good but more than one person could possibly eat. Coconut Shrimp was excellent. The entrees I tried were the Island Sampler (very good) and the classic Chicken Of The Gods which was fantastic. The portions were generous and came with soup AND salad. Unfortunately I can’t give equal kudos to the Chicken Fingers on the kids menu. My kids ordered them and gave a prompt veto. I tasted one and it was like eating a breaded twig.


Went to the gift shop…no S&P shakers! Apparently they had recently received a badly damaged shipment and were waiting for the replacements. On my second visit I learned they had located a good set and were holding it for me…so mahalos to the girl in the gift shop!

To sum things up, I enjoyed my first experience at the Bali Hai and it was fun to dine and drink at such a historic temple of tiki culture...just wish they were more consistent with the drinks. When I return to SD will definitely visit again.

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bamalamalu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 20, 2006
Posts: 567
Posted: 2007-07-18 10:04 pm   Permalink

Wow, I go all the time and the only consistency issue with the Mai Tais I've encountered is the balance - sometimes there's more dark rum, sometimes a bit less... Personally I love 'em, especially when they're extra dark. Bali Hai Mai Tais are among my favorite things on Earth.

I've watched various bartenders over many nights and have always seen the same ingredients go in; sometimes one may just have a heavier hand with the dark rum (which has occasionally fluctuated between Coruba & Meyers). The Trader Vics bottle is Orgeat, not Mai Tai Mix. Despite what the menu says, I believe they use just orgeat, not full orange liqueur. I'm not positive, but I think the squirt from the fountain hose on top is the sweet & sour. They do just pour everything over ice, usually with a quick stir, so stirring again can certainly alter the overall flavor.

I know there are experts out there who can be more accurate on the recipe, though. I've watched from the bar a lot, but am just as often at a table enjoying the view & my Schezuan Chicken.


 
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Kenike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 24, 2003
Posts: 1205
From: McKinney, TX
Posted: 2007-07-19 04:31 am   Permalink

Quote:
The Trader Vics bottle is Orgeat, not Mai Tai Mix. Despite what the menu says, I believe they use just orgeat, not full orange liqueur. I'm not positive, but I think the squirt from the fountain hose on top is the sweet & sour. They do just pour everything over ice, usually with a quick stir, so stirring again can certainly alter the overall flavor.



That's very possible about the TV mix as he was quick with the bottle...I may have misread the label. Other bartenders definitely did not use it. I only saw one bartender pour rum from 2 bottles, then TV Mix and what appeared to be orange liqueur. The others just did rum, a squirt of something and that was it.
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bamalamalu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 20, 2006
Posts: 567
Posted: 2007-07-19 08:54 am   Permalink

Strange. It is really hard to catch all the specific ingredients since they go so quickly, so I'm not 100% on anything. When I've been watching, I've always seen the same hand movements, though. They start with dark rum in one hand and light rum in the other. Then the light rum hand switches bottles (I believe to the orgeat), while the dark rum keeps pouring. Now I'm trying to remember whether there is another quick splash of something else (I guess orange) before the squirt from the hose & straw go in. Like I said, I'm sure someone more expert will set it straight!

I know the recipe in Intoxica is a little different than what they're doing now (no shaker, Meyers vs. Coruba); I don't know what was original, what was switched, etc. I don't have one to verify with, but I am pretty darn sure the menu & table cards used to refer to the original recipe, unchanged since 1954 (or '55), and they don't anymore.

All this is making me wanna go over and have one for lunch, though.



 
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