Poppies Restaurant is most definitely one of the most firmly established, distinctive and memorable restaurants on our beautiful island. The resort was opened 23 years ago, and it still has the same owners; David Hill and John Taylor. TripAdvisor currently rates Poppies Boutique Resort at number one for Samui and in the top 25 for the whole of Thailand. Proving that guest feedback really does matter.
The entire resort and restaurant continue to be lovingly maintained in the original, authentic Thai style, with teak wood structures and thatched roofed buildings which fit with the Samui environment. The Chaweng area has changed quite dramatically over the last 23 years, with many new developments, some of which embrace a more modern and contemporary style. Poppies stay fundamentally loyal to the natural environment, and traditional Thai style architecture. Another loyalty comes directly from of the staff. They are an extremely dedicated and established team. Many, including the Thai Executive Chef, Khun Wantanee Panplum, have been at Poppies since the day they opened all those years ago. The commitment to the brand, and being a true ‘boutique resort’ is evident everywhere. The owners and management ensure that maintenance is ongoing, and staff are well trained with excellent above average salaries. The staff to guest ratio of 3:1 pays dividends, with the exceptionally consistent service you can always expect at Poppies.
To stay at the top of their game, they know they have to change with the times. James McManaman is the returning general manager (he was first here from 1996-7) and he knows a thing or two about cuisine and spicing things up. In his colourful past, he went to culinary school and took a part time job cooking and waiting tables at Jed Nolan’s Music Hall in Scottsdale Arizona. During intervals, he would get up on stage in his chef’s uniform and sing old Vaudeville songs as the comedy relief. He became known as the ‘singing chef’. Nowadays with his dynamic and approachable style, he is looking to update and implement background and organisational systems. James understands that with 40% of guests being returnees, not a lot on the surface needs changing. From a guest perspective, the changes will be subtle, with some intimate fine-tuning and a few historical surprises.
“The Poppies experience is all about the details,” said James. “The Hidden Passage demonstrates the commitment of the owners to the guest experience, and I believe it is time to share this secret with the world.” Until now, the 50-meter long underground passage (built 23 years ago in order to hide resort deliveries) has remained a secret. The tunnel was designed to maintain a peaceful environment for the cottage guests above ground. While being escorted through the passage, guests will be introduced to the history of Poppies, which began on Bali 44 years ago. Local artists have painted canvas illustrations hung on the tunnel walls, inspired by photographs taken during construction, and of key events at Poppies Bali and Poppies Samui. The Hidden Passage will be open nightly starting June 1st, 2017, for guests with dinner reservations.
As you wander through the passage from the reception area towards the beach-side restaurant, it’s as though you are entering a different world entirely. A magical transformation seamlessly takes place as you leave the hustle and bustle of
Chaweng Beach Road behind. Alternatively, you can take the pathway above ground that meanders through the resort and surrounds you in lush tropical plants with flowers and butterflies. You are led over rustic bridges as you follow a stream with occasional ponds full of fat lazy carp, past 24 spaciously laid out cottages situated for maximum privacy, past the small spa and library and then down towards the restaurant, pool and stunningly perfect beach. The restaurant itself is a beautifully elegant and ornate teak Thai-style open-air restaurant which seats up to 80 diners, and includes the beach,
beach terrace and poolside. It is an immensely calming and relaxing environment where you feel totally removed from the rest of the world.
So why is Poppies so popular? Well, it is not only the calm, tranquil and elegant environment. The food itself is traditional and no nonsense food, always prepared with passion and attention to detail. The Thai Executive Chef, Khun Wantanee
cooks real authentic southern Thai food which is renowned amongst local residents. Khun Noi cooks the western food and has perfected his skills over the 17 years he has been at Poppies. There are five different menus to choose from; Thai, international, international lunch (with lighter dishes), vegetarian and a dessert menu. All have a wide range of choices, so you can choose between traditional Thai or international dishes such as Australian beef steak or lamb cutlets, pan roasted chicken breast with brie, roast duck breast, Phuket lobster, pizzas and pasta dishes. All the bread and desserts are made and baked here. You are so spoilt for choice you may have trouble choosing. So Poppies have come up with the perfect antidote for this situation – the kantoke. Kantoke is a rattan tray with a selection of four to eight small portion dishes, designed for sharing between two people, and great for trying a number of different flavours or textures. It has become so popular at Poppies that they now have eight different ones. Five of them include Thai dishes, including a vegetarian one and another with seafood. The other three are selections of international dishes.
The ‘Traditional Thai Kantoke’ includes a spicy prawn soup with lime leaf, stir-fried morning glory, fried chicken with ginger, charcoal roast duck curry with grape and pineapple, deep fried prawn cake with plum sauce, steamed jasmine or brown rice and Thai style banana fritters with coconut ice cream.
The three international kantokes are called ‘Selections of Small Dishes’ on the menu. Order the ‘Selection of Small Poppies Favourites’ and you can sample; nori wrapped lobster in crispy breadcrumbs with sweet ginger and soy sauce, traditional Caesar salad, roasted duck breast with plum and strawberry sauce, feta cheese and rocket salad, veal tenderloin (from Australia) with whole grain mustard sauce and sautéed asparagus, steamed snow fish fillet with sweet ginger and seaweed soy sauce and warm chocolate lava cake with raspberry coulis and vanilla ice cream.
All ingredients are fresh – fish, seafood and vegetables come directly from the local markets and the amazing choice will please everyone. Poppies is perfect for everyday or special occasions. Everything has been kept to the original Thai style; calm, classy and simply charming. The service is exceptional and the restaurant cuisine is simply divine.
Poppies Resort is located at the southern end of Chaweng Beach Road where the traffic is two-way. If you are coming from the north end, go past Centara Grand Beach Resort and Poppies is approximately another 200 metres on the left side. If you are travelling from the southern end, go past Seascape, and Poppies is the next resort on the right-hand side. Restaurant opening hours are from 11.30 am to 10.30 pm. The lunch menu is served until 5.30 pm. Poppies does have
a great reputation and can get very busy, particularly in the evening, so it is always advisable to book ahead.
For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7742 2419 .