Once it was the only place in Bali where you could get chocolate cake, but I remember Poppies as the home of the best smoothies in Kuta.
It was a time when a room at a losmen (local guest house) cost $2 for the night and that included a banana for breakfast if the monkeys didn’t get them first.
Today Google photos threw up some snaps taken during a visit to Bali in 2010, some 30 years after my first visit. Kuta was unrecognisable from the early days, except for the beach, which still looked similar.
The Kuta of my memories had narrow streets lined with palm trees and grass, where the only traffic was the occasional bemo (first form of share riding, hailed like a taxi).
After a fruitless search through the very hot streets at midday and then armed with the knowledge that there were two Poppies Lanes, we finally found the entrance to Poppies Café. It was almost untouched from the original, still a beautiful, calm oasis with the best nasi goreng around for around $6 Aus.
Nasi Goreng is perhaps Indonesia’s best-known dish. A combination of stir-fried rice with shrimps, saté, fried chicken and pickles, topped with a fried egg and a prawn cracker. I’ve sampled it many times but nothing matches the dish prepared with Poppies style.
In its early years, however, Poppies reputation was developed on the quality of its western food. It was a place of refuge for those who were seeking the familiarity of home style cooking.
I’d also recommend their Mie Goreng, another Indonesian favourite with fried noodles with shrimps and vegetables or the gado gado, which is a lightly steamed selection of green vegetables with bean sprouts, bean curd and spicy peanut sauce, served at room temperature unless you prefer it heated.
Poppies opened in January 12, 1973 and has been a favourite for travellers since then. Loved for its romantic, tropical canopy of vines and flowers, its grounds filled with pools and waterfalls and cuisine focused on Indonesian and international favourites.
We snuck around the Poppies Cottages for a look and managed to find one that was empty and open. It has to be one of the best spots to stay in Kuta for an authentic Balinese experience. Located right in the middle of all the Kuta madness, it somehow manages avoid the noise, hustle and bustle.
Where is it?
You’ll find Poppies at Poppies Lane 1, south end of Jalan Legian, Kuta, close to Bemo Corner on the Indonesian island of Bali.
Disclaimer: Ed+bK is reliving memories here.