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Recs for tiki bar/polynesian/americanized chinese spots?

I will preface this by asking you to please not take away my chowhound card. ;)

As a kid, my family would frequent a polynesian restaurant somewhere near Pittsfield, MA, I believe. I think the food was good (as least to a 10 year old's tastes), but regardless, I have fond memories of the spot and it's where I had my first pu-pu platter ;)

So...fast forward a few decades later, and I stumble upon a Globe review for Kowloon that is actually quite favorable. I think I've been there once, years ago, and though it was definitely kitchy and kind of a "fun" spot, IIRC the food wasn't so good.

I'm thinking the food still isn't that great (though if that's not the case please tell me.) I don't need anything mind-blowing or amazingly delicious, I know what I am going for here, and that is totally inauthentic chinese/polynesian food. But I still want it, partly for nostalgia sake and party 'cause I'd love some chicken and pineapples in a sweet & spicy sauce and a big rum drink served in a pineapple shell....

Any contenders? I know Golden Temple has it's detractors but is that an option? It needs to be somewhere that is pretty casual (tho I can't imagine how it wouldn't be, with food like that) as we'll be bringing along our almost 3-year old.

Thanks in advance for indulging me.

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  1. Maybe PF Changs? If memory serves, they have both a Great Wall of Chocolate and, for those tomato juice and vodka lovers out there, a Sichuan Mary. <sigh> And large statues of horses and warriors and what not.

    1. Found an old post w this exact question, so I have some things to go on.

      Oh, and the restaurant was apparently in Lenox MA; was called Luau Hale, and is still there. Found that out from the chowhound thread, which listed this as one of the best spots for tiki/polynesian in MA. See, even as a 10 year old I knew good food ;)

      1. i've seen people in the bar/lounge area of (New) CHina Pearl in Woburn having pupu platters and tiki drinks but not having tried it myself, can't vouch for whether it is any good...however if the pupu falls short, you can always fall back on some salt and pepper shrimp (no shell, please), peking duck etc.

        1. Tiki Island!
          http://www.tikiislandrestaurant.com/

          My hubby has taken our kids there and they are very family -friendly.

          2 Replies
          1. re: gimlis1mum

            I'll second Tiki Island. Friendly, accommodating staff and the food is better than most that I have tried of the polynesian style.

            1. re: gimlis1mum

              Tiki Island is fabulous. Has all the requisite Tiki kitsch (my husband is a Tiki buff and knows all the names of the various bits and bobs, I do not - but I do know they are all present and accounted for). I like the scallion pancakes and the boneless spare ribs and of course the cocktails that come in the ceramic glasses in the picture on the menu. Fun place, very nice service.

            2. Oh my goodness, do not go to Kowloon. I went not expecting the food to be great or anything, but it was so so so so so so bad. I still feel ill just thinking about it. Drinks are decent and fun. But save money on the food part and just chug a quart of old canola oil instead.

              Golden Temple is fine, I think. Kind of expensive, but their general gao's chicken was really tasty. Some of the other food is sort of sad from trying to be healthy.

              2 Replies
              1. re: maillard

                ok, so sue me. I love Golden Temple. The quality of the ingredients is very good, the bar is excellent, and they have the best chinese style spareribs I've found in Boston (Golden Temple special ribs, addictive as crack). They're unabashedly american-style chinese, but they really are much better than sticky goo red sweet and sour sauce. when i want a fix of what reminds me of my first experiences as a child with so-called cantonese food (what did I know?) and a good martini, that's where I go. When I want chinese food, I go to Shanghai Gate.

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                Shanghai Gate
                204 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                1. re: maillard

                  I'm with maillard - tried Golden Temple once and found that most of the old-school Americanized dishes we tried were spoiled either by a "healthy" spin or by an attempt to go a bit upscale. I forget what they put in the crab rangoon to gussy them up, but it ruined them!

                2. The only good thing about anything Tiki in greater Boston is drinking. I wouldn't eat in ANY of them.

                  Heck hit the Hong Kong in Harvard Square. Their food is actually not totally horrible and they have the Tiki drinks down.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    The Hong Kong is also one of the few places in Harvard Square (or hell, all of Boston/Cambridge!) that's actually open really late--like past 2AM on weekends. Not with a three-year-old probably, but good to know.

                  2. I was about to bring up Bali Hai but remembered that there was a fun thread about tiki bars.

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/343860

                    1. I've recently been on the same kick. Do NOT go to Kowloon. The food is just awful. And not acceptably, guilty-pleasurish awful.

                      For good food and drinks (though the atmosphere isn't as good as it once was, and they no longer have the cool tiki glasses) I'm liking Oriental Garden in Haverhill. The food is exactly as I remember it from the early '80s, and that's not a bad thing.

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                      Oriental Garden
                      400 Lowell Ave Ste 13, Haverhill, MA 01832

                      1. Disagreed with other folks here -- there's definitely a lot to love at Kowloon. They've got the best full-on Tiki decor, decent Tiki drinks, and the food's generally okay... but stick to the appetizers, and you'll be fine. Their Saugus wings are worth the trip.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                          Gotta agree with you Boston_Otter - if you want kitchy, tiki type stuff, you gotta go to Kowloon - it's a fun time as long as you stick to the apps - & the drinks. Last time I was there, I even got Lei'd (no one gives those out anymore that I can think of)! Don't remember what food we got, but I do remember our group had a lot of fun.
                          Too bad Bob Lee's Islander is long gone ..............

                          1. re: southie_chick

                            I used to feel just that way. However the last two times we went, we were seated in the two undecorated, non-kitschy areas, and it wasn't charming. It was just dirty and depressing. They don't serve the drinks in the right glasses with any consistency. (And the drinks are not well made.) If you want an interesting glass you have to buy the coconut monkey head. The scorpion bowl for two does not have the flaming 151 in the center (a must!) and the apps were NOT good. They were skimpy and tasted of old oil. I'm done with Kowloon. Will check out Tiki Island, though!

                        2. I have no idea if the food is any good, but Tahiti in Dedham definitely fits the bill for the kind of place you're looking for. I know I loved it when I was 10, too! :)

                          1. South pacific in Newton Highlands may fit the bill, I friend has had her birthday parties there since the 80's.

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                            South Pacific
                            1152 Beacon St, Newton Highlands, MA 02461