Samui Wining & Dining
Poppies' Kantokes

Bringing the north down south.



         When you dream of a holiday to Thailand, you think of beaches, trees, waterfalls, Thai culture and authentic Thai cuisine. How about experiencing all of this in just one place?

         Yes, Poppies Samui offers you all this, and more. This was the first-ever boutique hotel on Samui, and is located towards the southern end of Chaweng Beach. Passing through the property, with its magnificent wooden cottages, many ponds and the sound of waterfalls, you feel like you're exploring a secret garden that leads to someplace wondrous. Well, it does. You’ll land at their elegant beachside restaurant.

         Poppies have made a name for themselves, and their menu, from the time they opened back in 1994. You will notice that many of their guests are regulars. That's hardly surprising given the hospitality you receive from General Manager, John Ens and his congenial staff. John hosts his guests in a weekly cocktail party, in a relaxed atmosphere by the beach. Dinner time is special at Poppies and lately, we hear the foodies on the island talk about their kantokes.

         What is a kantoke? Simply put, it’s a balanced selection of small Thai dishes on a rattan tray, perfect for sharing, and served at a traditional short table called the 'toke'. This is an ancient tradition that dates back to the northern Thai Lanna Kingdom, during the rule of King Mengrei. Back then kantokes were served on special occasions, and even today this is a common tradition at festivals and celebrations.

      The executive chefs at Poppies have created seven different kantokes, two Western and two Thai. Chef Wan, who's been working with them for 18 years, created the Thai kantokes; and Chef Noi, who's worked there for 12 years, formulated the Western ones. They have listed these creations in a special menu titled ‘Kantokes’, with a picture of every dish. Each kantoke serves two people and is an extraordinary tray of joy.

      The ‘Royal Thai Kantoke’ is a real favourite. You get omelette stuffed with minced shrimp and vegetables; crispy pastry cups with minced chicken and vegetables; betel leaf wrapped with ginger, lime, shallots, dried shrimp, roasted peanut, dried coconut and Thai sweet sauce; sea prawns with garlic pepper sauce; beef in spicy rich red curry; a mild spicy tamarind paste served with vegetables; white tuna fillet steamed with ginger and soy sauce and steamed curried crab meat soufflé with coconut milk, all served with steamed jasmine rice or brown rice and Thai pumpkin custard with sticky rice and coconut ice cream to finish.

      The ‘Four Regions Kantoke’ contains northern Thai spicy sausages with green chilli pepper dip; minced duck poached with shallots, mint, lime and chilli; beef in peanut curry sauce; stir-fried prawns in tamarind sauce and stir-friend mixed mushrooms. Again served with steamed jasmine rice or brown rice, and Thai pumpkin custard with sticky rice and coconut ice cream.

      Among the Western kantokes, you have the ‘Selection of small seafood dishes’, which gives you soft shell crab tempura with green mango salad; green lip mussels in white wine, garlic and herb butter; tiger prawns sautéed in tomato/basil sauce with rocket salad; char-grilled snow fish with a light coconut sauce and morning glory sautéed in sesame oil; and poached rock lobster in butter with a light green curry sauce and sautéed kale. Dessert is warm chocolate lava cake with a raspberry coulis and vanilla ice cream.

         There's something for everyone here, including vegetarians. The vegetarian kantoke contains the classic spicy green papaya salad; sweet and sour vegetables with tofu; panang red curry with mixed vegetables; vegetables in creamy green curry and deep-fried tofu with seasonal tropical fruits to round off the meal.

         And if you're wondering what drink to order with your kantoke, a glass of white wine certainly complements this gratifying meal.


Charisma Bharadwaj


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