Samui Wining & Dining
Pick Poppies for dinner tonight.

Pick Poppies for dinner tonight.Choosing the best restaurants on Samui when there’s so much on offer can be a challenging task; if you’re driving along, there’s a crop of vibrant-looking places, not to mention brand new ones too. There’s much to catch the eye, but when it comes to Poppies Samui, you’ll need to go beyond the façade to see what this place is all about. Not much is visible from the road, yet a visit here is guaranteed to be memorable.


To start with, how many restaurants allow you to reach your table via a hidden passageway? There will be few contenders for this, and fewer still where your chef emerges from a kitchen to present you with an amuse-bouche on the way. The completely hidden tunnel was built to connect the kitchen and beach end of Poppies with the lobby area. It’s accessed by a door that’s so well-camouflaged it might be secret, and then by a faux bookcase that swings aside to let you into the passage proper.


If secret approaches aren’t your thing, the other way to get to the restaurant is to pass through a remarkably lush garden, cross a carp-filled pond and arrive at your table. (You’ll still be presented with that amusebouche by the way.)


Poppies is a little world all of its own that unfolds as you go, unexpected and intricately composed. It looks timeless, and first opened its doors in 1995. Since then it only seems to get better as the years go by.


The gardens aren’t the only magnificent feature at Poppies; the dining room is an authentic Burmese teak pavilion with a second, smaller one even closer to the sea. In addition, you can dine on a terrace fronting the beach or on the sands themselves. Poppies may have been the first restaurant of its kind on the island,Pick Poppies for dinner tonight. but it doesn’t just pride itself on its historic role; if it was a leader back then, it still is today. Poppies remains a name that exudes quality, great service and it’s known far afield for its mouth-watering menus. Choose between international fare or traditional Thai. At Poppies, there are two executive chefs, Khun Wantanee, who’s in charge of everything Thai, and Khun Noi, who is responsible for the international side. Together, they’re able to cater for all palates. The Thai tastes here at Poppies are all authentic; dishes that have been popular for hundreds of years are made to perfection. And not surprisingly, the restaurant has many repeat diners.


This is also one of the foremost places on the island to enjoy ‘Kantok’, a Thai traditional shared meal presented on a rattan tray, and ideal for couples or friends. There’s a choice of different types at Poppies: Traditional, Vegetarian, Royal Thai, Four Regions or Seafood. Each comes with four delicious courses, followed by a dessert. Relatively few restaurants offer Kantok of any kind, but even if they did, Poppies would still stand out when it comes to the sheer tastiness of these dishes.


Aside from Kantok, you’ll find all manner of delights such as spicy wing bean salad, grilled beef or pork slices with shallots, tomato and lime, whole steamed snapper with lime and chilli, Chinese roast duck in red curry with grapes and pineapple. Then there are stir-fries,Pick Poppies for dinner tonight. noodle and rice dishes, and a whole medley of delightful dishes that have been put together with the utmost care.


Poppies has recently started serving a special set meal in a traditional three-tiered tray or ‘Pinto’, with each tier holding a different dish. The pinto features the best of Thai and international flavours and was created using the skills of both chefs.


The international menu is every bit as good too. Here you’ll find extraordinarily good starters such as baked goat’s cheese in a filo pastry parcel along with a compote of figs, seared sea scallops with white wine pickled ginger and cream sauce. Salads, meanwhile, range from the simple and delicious Greek salad through to beer battered prawns and avocado on rocket or the excellent Australian beef carpaccio. And speaking of beef, for main courses, you can enjoy steaks of certified Black Angus, either fillet or tenderloin. Catch of the day is prepared in a variety of ways, including Cajun style, char-grilled, parmesan-coated – these are just examples – and you can always ask the waiting staff if you would prefer a different style; they are extremely helpful as well as flexible.


Poppies also has an international vegetarian menu, an irresistible line-up of desserts, and an innovative selection of wines from both the new and old worlds. Once dinner is finally over, each diner is given a complimentary shot glass of Kahlúa.


Every Saturday, Poppies hosts its weekly Thai night, which includes traditional Thai dancing along with live musicians and an interesting market that features the best of local handicrafts.


Poppies offers you the very best, whether it’s traditional Thai or international dishes. Combine that with the beautiful beachside setting, and you can see why Poppies, one of the longest-running establishments on Samui, continues to be a star.


Dimitri Waring


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