No mistake about it. Depending on how you look at it, the approach to Poppies Restaurant Samui turns out to be unique. Yes, you could do what guests have done up to now, go through the garden to get to the restaurant, but there’s another way, one that very, very few people – at least up to now – have been aware of. It’s all part and parcel of this seemingly traditional restaurant that contains a few surprises.
But back to that walk to the restaurant. Once you’re in the lobby of Poppies resort, you’ll see an anonymous, unmarked door that attracts nobody’s attention. You’ll be led through here only to find yourself in what seems to be a short corridor with a bookcase at the end. You can browse the books, but they’re not really there for reading purposes. The entire bookcase acts as a secret door, and swings back to reveal a lengthy and mysterious underground passage that meanders away into the distance.
Walk down it and you’ll soon come to the main kitchen, but you may want to stop and browse the beautiful paintings along the way. They depict the history of Poppies, and the staff who work here. Many have been here since the day Poppies first opened; most have been here well over a decade, and are incredibly dedicated.
Poppies is definitely not your usual restaurant story. At the end of the 80s, the owners bought some land, close to the sea and down a track in the village of Chaweng. It didn’t look much, it had to be said. But then their imaginations took over. In the space of some four years, the tract of land was utterly transformed. Conservatively, it could be called extreme landscape gardening, if you include building an entire hill, which is what they did. Most resort owners would raise their
eyebrows at the effort required. Poppies Samui finally opened in 1994, but the time spent was well worth it; the new topography allowed some chalets to be built high above the main lobby, yet simultaneously they were secluded and very, very private. All the chalets, in fact, face different ways, further boosting privacy, as does the fact that each has its own walkway.
The restaurant, meanwhile, became a roaring success. And all the trolleys bearing food and drink that came from the road to the restaurant did so in utter silence … and invisibility. The guests never witnessed anything, because everything arrived and departed via a hidden passage, while they enjoyed a green and silent world.
‘The Hidden Passage’ as it’s now officially known is still in use. By day it’s still the major route between the restaurant, the kitchens and the outside world. Virtually every ingredient gets to the restaurant this way. But when evening comes, and you’re passing the menu board out on the street, the two hostesses there will invite you to come and take a walk through the passage. It’s worth it for the sheer adventure, and no, there’s no obligation to eat or drink in the restaurant afterwards. But you will find the chef offering you some free nibbles once you get to the end of the passage.
Should you wish to eat, you most certainly can. Poppies’ food is acknowledged to be wonderful. Try one of the ‘kantoke’ menus (four utterly delicious small main courses and dessert are served on a rattan Thai tray). You can choose between the following kantokes: Four Regions, Vegetarian, Royal Thai or Seafood. You might also have a ‘pinto’, two compartments of food, served Thai-style in a duo of wooden containers, the traditional way of carrying food around. Poppies also focuses on the freshest of seafood, and there’s a wide range of Thai and international food of the most sumptuous kind.
Poppies is certainly a one-off experience in many ways; the owners have definitely turned things on their head, and have done so just to please their guests. Creative thinkers in an original way, they’ve brought all their talents to providing outstanding cuisine that has wowed guests for decades. Whichever way you look at it, Poppies Samui is a resounding success.
For reservations or further information telephone 0 7742 2419.