basil stir-fry at thai nivas café photo by david kovaluk

Review: Thai Nivas Café in Creve Coeur

A steady stream of regulars pours into Thai Nivas Café in Creve Coeur every day. The warm, wood-paneled dining room is abuzz with a business lunch crowd, busy servers, a phone ringing with carryout orders and, like a maestro with eyes locked on the score, a sushi chef meticulously slicing rolls in his open prep area. The side-by-side Thai and Japanese menus provide unique options along with all the standards, which are executed exceptionally.

Tom Yum Soup
Lemongrass mingled with a healthy dose of fish sauce sets the tone for this hot and sour soup. I added the chicken (tofu and shrimp are also available), which made a nice combination with the generous bowl of bright red broth teeming with thick-cut mushrooms, green onion slivers and chopped cilantro.

the sushi bar at thai nivas café // photo by david kovaluk

Combo Maki Lunch Special
Made to order in front of you, the sushi at Thai Nivas is killer. The combo maki lunch special includes a warm, crispy, creamy shrimp tempura roll. Better still was the bigger spicy yellowtail roll, which came with avocado and cucumber laced with bright orange smelt eggs and drizzled with a rich, spicy aioli. Along with the sushi, the special came with a bowl of satisfying miso soup bobbing with hunks of tofu and a side salad bathed in ginger dressing.

Pad Peanut Sauce Noodles
If you can polish off an entire order of these noodles, you’ll likely hate yourself, but the journey there will be absolutely fantastic. An enormous mound of soft, thin rice noodles is coated with decadent peanut sauce. The chicken option went exceptionally well with this one, combined with stir-fried carrot, sweet bell pepper, onion and little bits of scrambled egg that cling to each bite.

ma-sa-man curry at thai nivas café // photo by david kovaluk

Ma-Sa-Man Curry
This blissful dish delivers tender bits of chicken in a rich red curry sauce with a sweet coconut milk base. Hunks of potato add heft along with softened white onion and a heavy addition of crushed peanuts, which bring a satisfying crunch to the sauce. It’s served with a heap of white rice to soak up the curry.

Basil Stir-Fry
This was a lovable take on standard Thai stir-fry. Flavors of fresh basil permeate the dish, and the medium heat option offers just enough spice not to overwhelm the senses. I chose to add pork, succulent and generously portioned, to the thick cuts of white onion and red and green bell pepper.

The Downside
I expected a lot more from the bamee moo dang, a hearty noodle soup dish off of the Thai special menu. There was nothing special at all about the dull mass of yellow egg noodles and the bland slices of “barbecue” pork, which failed to be rescued by the broth.

Matt Berkley is a longtime contributor and critic for Sauce Magazine.