Probably the most renowned restaurant on the island, this place has been wooing its diners since day one – and that was over 20 years ago! And here’s why it’s still up there at the very top. Of course, we’re talking about the famous Poppies.
Many restaurants have come along over the years trying to knock Poppies off its top spot. Some get close. But Poppies is still there. And this is why…
To begin with, its part of one of Samui’s finest boutique resorts, located at the quiet southern end of Chaweng Beach. And if you approach the restaurant from the Chaweng Beach Road you’ll pass through it, and see exactly what I mean. As you follow the meandering pathway over rustic bridges and past carp-filled ponds you’ll spot the 24 detached cottages spaciously set out in gloriously landscaped gardens. So by the time you reach the restaurant, with the beach on one side and a free-form swimming pool on the other, you’ll be hooked already.
Choose between sitting in the elegant, 40-seater open-sided teak pavilion itself with its ornate Thai-style roof, or outside in the large sala on the beach terrace where there’s room for 40 more. There’s also seating for 20 on the beach itself. Many places, many choices and the charming Restaurant Manager, Khun Renu Petchrat takes great care in finding just the right place for you.
And that also goes for the food. There’s both Thai and international, with the emphasis on the freshest-of-fresh seafood. And when it comes to beachside Thai dining in Chaweng, Poppies really is hard to beat. This has a lot to do with the skills of their two executive chefs. And firstly, there’s the Thai Cuisine Executive Chef, Khun Wantanee Panplum. She’s been at Poppies since day one, and I’m sure they’ve chained her up in the kitchen for fear of losing her – I would!
“… and when it comes to beachside dining in Chaweng,
Poppies really is hard to beat.”
Khun Wantanee is a Koh Samui native and brings a delicious Southern Thai influence to much of the Thai fare. And although many diners go for her fabulous dishes from the interesting à la carte menu (such as her tasty Pla Neung – a fresh fish steamed in herbs with an onion and ginger sauce), a lot opt for one of Poppies renowned kantokes.
What are they? Well, a kantoke is a set-dinner for 2, offering a selection of various dishes served on a rattan tray. There are five Thai kantokes on the menu and three International (which we’ll come to in a minute). A popular choice – and one that’s highly recommended – is the Four Regions Kantoke, comprising Northern Thai spicy sausages and green chili pepper dip; minced duck poached with shallots, mint, lime and chili; beef in peanut curry sauce; stir-fried prawns in tamarind sauce; stir-fried mixed mushrooms and steamed Jasmine- or brown-rice, following by a traditional Thai dessert – a Thai pumpkin custard with sticky rice and coconut ice-cream. Terrific value at just 1,550 baht for the whole meal for two people!
And for Thai culture lovers, the highlight of the week is Saturday’s Thai Night when there’s 2 ½ hours of spectacular traditional Thai dancing and live music starting at 7:30 pm. Local artisans are also on hand to demonstrate their skills in soap carving and other artwork (which you can also buy).
But let’s not forget the International cuisine here, as it’s not just a token part of the menu, catering for the odd one in a party who’s afraid to try Thai food. The International fare at Poppies has always brought diners from far and wide, too. And that’s where we introduce the International Cuisine Executive Chef – Khun Suwit Sunan.
“…A few lucky customers do manage to get a dinner table immediately without booking, but to avoid disappointment, reservations are definitely recommended.”
Khun Suwit has also been at Poppies for a very long time (18+ years at the last count!) and his innovative creations are the reason why. Do try his outrageously delicious Roast Duck Breast with plum and strawberry sauce, feta cheese, rocket salad and potato croquette if you’re choosing from the a la carte menu – you won’t be disappointed.
Or you could go for one of Khun Suwit’s International kantokes and share a feast between the two of you. A particularly recommended one is the Poppies Seafood Extravaganza, and this is what it includes: a prawn bisque starter followed by a char-grilled Phuket lobster, prawns, squid, scallops, mussels, blue crab and white tuna fillet, with a selection of sauces plus seasonal vegetables and your choice of potato. Plus a warm chocolate lava cake with raspberry coulis and vanilla ice cream for dessert. And at just Bt 3,250 for two diners, it’s got to be the deal of the century!
And Poppies is a great place to go for lunch too, as it has a completely separate luncheon menu with the emphasis on ‘lighter’ cuisine, such as exotic fresh salads, pastas and Thai favourites.
A few lucky customers do manage to get a dinner table immediately without booking, but to avoid disappointment, reservations are definitely recommended.
Poppies is open for lunch from 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm, and for dinner from 5:00 pm (kitchen closes at 10:30 pm)
Poppies for reservations and further information telephone +66 (0) 7742 2419