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Dishin' Out Durham: It’s Raining Bowls, Hai-llelujah!

Insane. Hedonistic. Debauched. Such was supposed to be my Saturday night.


Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But at least I have your attention now.

In truth, my friends and I decided to kick back and relax with dinner and a movie this past Saturday. None of us are all that decisive, so we didn’t choose a restaurant or movie beforehand. We figured that we would reach a mutual decision when we met up. I picked up one friend from Central and continued on to East to get the other, all the while creating a mental list of the many eateries I would propose when we were finally together. But of course, just as I reached East Campus and opened my mouth to start spewing off names from my carefully constructed list, the heavens opened up and down came that relentless, torrential downpour that I’m sure put a damper on your night as well.

All the options I had prepared to bestow upon my friends flew out of my head and only one remained: Bali Hai. I was already on East at this point and didn’t care to stray far from campus in the rain. Delicious, quick, and conveniently located on 9th Street, Bali Hai offered a logical yet tasty solution to our rainy dilemma.

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Though I personally consider it to be a treasure chest of scrumptiousness, Bali Hai is more widely known as a Chinese Mongolian grill that offers its customers made-to-order dishes loaded with virtually any selection of meats and vegetables. About fifteen minutes by foot from East Campus and five minutes by car from West, Bali Hai presents Duke students with an easy and affordable Mongolian dining experience.

From its exterior and interior, Bali Hai looks like your average restaurant. But it isn’t. It operates by an ingenious design that gives you, the consumer, complete control over what you eat and how you eat it. Simply choose a sauce from their selection, which includes combination sauce options, and specify a level of spiciness on a scale from 1 to 10. Then add a protein or noodle option for a small, additional fee and mosey on over to the salad and meat bar to stuff either one or two bowls (again, your choice!) with as many vegetables, like cabbage, tomatoes, and green peppers to name a few, and meats, like turkey, pork, and beef, as you can. Once you deem your bowl stuffed enough, drop your creation off at the cooking station and watch as the chefs grill your meal to perfection right in front of your very own eyeballs! After the chefs finish their magic, your food will appear at your table accompanied by your choice of fried or white rice. All that’s left to do after that is eat, enjoy, and try to keep yourself from embarrassingly devouring your meal like a voracious hyena…as I tend to do.

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I like to think of Bali Hai as a college kid’s dream come true. Not only does the restaurant let you eat on your own terms, but it also poses a challenge—to stuff as many meats and vegetables into the bowl as is humanly possible—and we all know how much we college kids enjoy a good challenge. Some of the bowls that wind up on the cooking station look less like a bowl and more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s really quite impressive. But it’s important to know that you shouldn’t try to get too ambitious. If you’re caught stuffing your bowl to heights comparable to the Burj Khalifa, then you are sure to get an earful from the restaurant staff.

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Bali Hai offers both lunch and dinner pricing options. One bowl at lunch costs $5.95 while one bowl at dinner costs $6.95. Add-ons, like chicken, tofu, calamari, and noodles among others, cost somewhere between an additional $1-3. At prices like these, it’s no surprise that Bali Hai is always buzzing with activity.

Boasting a pleasant atmosphere bolstered by veggies sizzling on the grill and enticing aromas wafting through the air, Bali Hai offered my friends and I a magnificent place to eat a great dinner and enjoy each other’s company as we waited for the rain to pass. Fairly priced, conveniently located, and utterly delectable, I would definitely recommend that you give Bali Hai a try, rain or shine.




Bali Hai Website:


Walking directions from the East Campus Bus Stop:

Driving Directions from West Campus:


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