Samui Wining & Dining
Pick Poppies for dinner tonight.

Pick Poppies for dinner tonight.Poppies Samui has been an island favourite for as long as most people care to remember, and little has changed since it was built in the 80s, becoming one of the very first of Samui’s upscale resorts and restaurants. Conveniently located in the south of Chaweng, on the beach road, the disarmingly simple façade hides the surprises within. For a start, there’s an entire oasis of green that begins once you’ve gone through the atrium. A path leads through grounds that have look as if they have stepped straight out of a fable. Deeply green and enigmatic, the lush foliage, plants and trees all beckon you to slow down and become aware of your surroundings.


Unless you’re lucky enough to possess your own tropical garden, you may not have seen anything like this before – and it’s rare enough a sight even when you’re travelling. It’s hard to believe that you’ll come to the sea and the restaurant that fronts it – there’s definitely no sign of either. Follow the path as it meanders through the gardens and it becomes a little journey all of its own. And thankfully, you don’t have to share it with crowds, Poppies being a discreet, select kind of a place. You’ll see cottages on your way, and there are 24 of these, but they hardly impinge, lost to view in all the greenery. People love to stay at the resort,it’s a luxury experience, and very often the same guests return over and over again. Half way down to the restaurant, you might even want to take a break. There’s a small pavilion right by a bridge that crosses a pond, where you can sit awhile.


Koi carp swim here, a strangely mesmeric sight as they glide through the water and occasionally break the surface, their scales reflecting the sunlight. And frankly it’s hard to leave. In all of this, there’s not one single giveaway that there’s a town so close by. No traffic noise at all. Pick Poppies for dinner tonight.We might be in the countryside somewhere, some deep and rural part that’s loath to be on the map.


In the evening, there’s yet another way to get to the restaurant, perhaps not so magical, yet unforgettable in its own way. Poppies is one of the few restaurants in the world that boasts a secret passage. It’s definitely not gimmicky, but serves a practical purpose; during the day it’s used to ferry all sorts of goods to and from the main entrance to the restaurant, and because it’s a tunnel, nobody sees it, and better still, it means that the path to the restaurant remains unobstructed.


The passage starts behind an anonymous-looking door which seems open onto a small room containing books. The fun starts once a secret door is flung back to reveal the tunnel which traverses the entire resort. The Poppies’ story adorns the walls, along with paintings that portray some of the notable moments in the years since it opened.


The garden and the hidden passage aren’t the only surprises. The main dining room is a Burmese teak pavilion with a second, smaller one even closer to the sea. As places to eat, they’re unique to Samui, and add to the authentic atmosphere of Poppies. Pick Poppies for dinner tonight.In addition, you can dine on a terrace fronting the beach or on the sands themselves.


Poppies, unlike most restaurants, boasts not one, but two, executive chefs, Khun Wantanee, who’s in charge of everything Thai, and Khun Noi, who is responsible for the international side. Together, they’ve put together a menu that showcases some of the finest food around, all of it high quality and beautifully presented.


Poppies specializes in traditional three-tiered trays or ‘Pinto’, with each tier holding a different Thai or international dish, as well as the ‘Kantok’, a Thai shared meal ideal for couples or friends which is presented on a rattan tray. With a choice of Traditional, Vegetarian, Royal Thai, Four Regions or Seafood Kantok, each consists of four delicious courses, followed by a dessert. These are some of diners’ best-loved choices. For international dishes, the choices are every bit as good, with diners enjoying catch of the day, all manner of seafood and prime Australian steaks and other meats. There are plenty of vegetarian dishes, too, and no matter what you choose, Poppies is sure to have a wine to go with it. Finish with a moreish dessert, and when it’s time to finally leave, enjoy a complimentary shot glass of Kahlúa.


A patch of paradise all of its own, Poppies guarantees each visit is memorable – come for just a drink or stay and enjoy lunch or dinner at this iconic restaurant. It’s always been a benchmark for excellence and one that you’ll be loath to leave.


Dimitri Waring


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