Revisiting Bali Hai for Dim Sum

Bali Hai is just a few minutes walk away from home.  I haven’t been for a while as I have been away quite a lot. Last time I wrote was about a year and a half ago. This morning we decided to breakfast there.

Bali Hai

Bali Hai

As I write this, the main impression I have is how expensive it has become.  The same owner had Coffee Island, a coffee shop / restaurant, also close to where I live.  Around Chinese New Year a couple of years ago prices dramatically increased in Coffee Island, and I, once a regular visitor, just stopped patronising it.  This once very popular spot lost so much business they closed, and since then have tried various different businesses there – hawker centre, Thai Restaurant and others, none of which lasted for long. There may be other factors involved, such as Straits Quays opening around that time, but the big price rise is the major one I think. I fear they are making the same mistake with Bali Hai now.  There were far  fewer patrons than I expected for a Saturday mid-morning.

2013-10-26 08.46.12s

What we ordered October 2013

I felt the food was not as tasty as in the past couple of years. They have changed the panel to the kitchen to glass so you could see in – if they hadn’t piled chairs and tables against the wall there.

The bill, October 2013

The bill, October 2013

The bill March 2012

The bill March 2012

Yes, we ordered more this time than the visit I recorded a year and a half ago. But you can see that the ones we usually order used to be RM4 each, and are now RM5, a 25% increase. You can also see that there was no RM8 category.

As none of the dishes’ prices are marked when you choose them, and they mostly don’t speak English, you can’t choose easily according to price or value.

The view is still nice, the atmosphere better than most Dim Sum restaurants, and parking available and easier now, as there are fewer customers.


90, 90A, 90B, 90C & 90D, Persiaran Gurney
10250, Penang

Telephone:     +604-228 8272 / 228 1272
Fax:     +604-228 8273

Hours: 7AM until 1PM for Dim Sum, and until late evening as a seafood restaurant.

Free WiFi – no password necessary, just find the Bali Hai broadcast.



  1. thanks for this post.glad u put up a pic. interesting to see what dim sum costs nowadays in penang. i was looking at the picture and trying to figure out what dish cost rm8 . is it that rectangular dish of what looks like battered fish? it does not look like the usual dimsum dish. for rm8, i would hope it is something better than fish… lobster or crab perhaps. though i think he made a mistake to include it in the dim sum menu. it should be in the special dish menu. i notice there is no charge for the tea, or did you not have tea? also no separate entry for sales tax or service charge. so presumably that is included in the Rm41. does the food come in a trolley, from which u chose? rather than ordered via a menu? here in london, that custom of pushing a hot trolley round the tables is dispensed with, and we order from a menu and have the food delivered directly to the table. less hit or miss when u can wait ages for what u want to finally come to u, if a trolley system is used.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I imagine that the pork dish in the bottom left corner of the picture was RM8. My wife recalls them charging RM1.50 each for tea, but we actually brought our own tea and cups, and just used their pot and hot water. It ends to be the larger establishments that charge ++, being 10% service charge and 6% tax (up from 5% recently). But last night’s budget introduces a 6% GST (VAT) in 17 months. A pity, because in my experience this will be very inflationary. So depending on the threshold turnover, restaurants may or may not be affected. They have trolleys on weekdays, but on weekends it is self service, where you simply go and pick the dishes you like, as you would at a canteen. Some Dim Sum here have you order from a menu, but not Bali Hai. Actually, my colleagues and I used to eat in Chinatown sometimes for lunch in London, and then the Evening Standard (I believe it became free – does it still exist?) did an expose on hygene standards – and our favourite was one of the worst.

  2. the evening standard is free now in london.when did u eat in london? must be a few years ago. now with each dish costing from £3 in london , i dont eat dimsum. haha. that Rm8 dish looks like pigs trotters… surely not!! not many foreigners like it. but even if it is pig trotters, it seems rather high priced. this restaurant allows u to bring your own tea? how strange. and they dont charge for supplying the hot water too. rather good of them.looking at the picture of the 2012 bill tea is charged .30cx2 so if they charge rm1.50 now that is a big jump in price.
    u say u pick the food like in a canteen, usually it comes piping hot on the trolley, or brought to your table if u order from the menu, if they put it out on a table canteen style , wont the food get cold?

    1. Well we sold up and left London about six and a half years ago. So the Evening Standard survives. The food is displayed en masse near the kitchen in stacked containers, and when you ask for something the server takes off the top container and gives you the second, so it is hot. Being the tropics, by the time you get your card marked and get to your table the food doesn’t really get cold. Another reader has suggested another dim sum restaurant virtually next door, and I walked past it today, so sometime I will give that a try.

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