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Must-tries: traditional Thai fare at its best at Nivas Cafe & Bistro

Sad but true: ancient Thai fare is becoming a lost thing. But not on Nivas Cafe & Bistro’s watch.

A group of chefs from a repertoire of restaurants across the city are doing their best to not let the time-tested Thai cuisine be forgotten and buried under new influences. One of the newest restaurants to join the scene, Nivas Café & Bistro, is one of them.

Situated on Naknivas Road, Nivas is a multi-purpose venue, serving as a restaurant, café, and bar with a range of traditional Thai delicacies slightly touched with new twists, and concocted drinks inspired by Thai produce, spices, and seasonings.

With a menu created by the Michelin-starred Chef Thaninthorn ‘Noom’ Chantrawan along with Nivas’s fiery Head Chef Pitchakorn ‘Pop’ Rambut, you can be guaranteed to get star-worthy Thai food. This all comes with an intimate setting and homey vibe at very friendly price points.

Recently, we had a chance to check out the space and tried some of the best dishes Nivas Café & Bistro has to offer. Here’s a list of must-tries you need to order when you visit.

Wagyu Pad Ka Prao Fried Rice (THB 250)

It’s not a Thai restaurant if pad ka prao is not on the menu. The holy basil stir-fry here gets folded into the rice until well-mixed. Then it gets a meaty upgrade of medium-rare marbled wagyu and a yolk that acts almost like a cool-creamy sauce to accompany the fiery, chilli-studded rice.

Pad Thai Chai Ya (THB 180)

Pad Thai Chai Ya, a staple noodle dish from Surat Thani, sets itself apart from the OG pad thai we are mostly accustomed. This is done with the additions of coconut milk and shrimp paste to the sour-sweet tamarind sauce. The noodle also comes sprinkled with salted egg for a small heft of saltiness as a contrast to the sweet sauce-soaked noodle.

Golek Chicken (THB 150)

A staple in the Southern part of Thailand, these Islamic Malaysian chicken skewers are rubbed with a medley of herbs and spices like ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, curry powder and more, before getting grilled on a hot flame until the skin is charred and reddened. It’s perfect with sticky rice or just to accompany the pad thai for another layer of meatiness. 

Deep-fried Sea Bass with Stewed Fish Sauce Sauce (THB 450)

For a crowd-pleaser, you can’t go wrong with fried fish drowned in a pungent, umami-packed sauce. The sea bass here is halved and deep-fried until crispy and the skin develops this deep golden-brown shade, before being showered in the stewed fish sauce. Yum.

Thai Coconut Curry with Steamed Mackerels and Lotus Stems (THB THB 180)

This briny Thai coconut curry speckled with steamed mackerel and fork-tender lotus stems isn’t always easy to find and that explains why – despite its plain, simple look – the dish has become a delicacy to us. It boasts a robust and tangy slash salty tang, cut with sweet creaminess from the coconut milk which makes it perfect to spoon over a warm bed of plain rice to highlight the curry whilst making a substantial meal.

Stir-fried Stink Beans and Prawn with Shrimp Paste (THB 250)

For a party of flavours: pungency, bitterness, and saltiness, these Stir-fried Stink Beans pack up some real toothsomeness. The whiff of the beans’ notorious odour just adds to the delicious character of the beans.

Nivas Café & Bistro, 266 Naknivas Road, Lat Phrao, Bangkok, +6693 575 9533; Open: Mon-Sun, 10 am-12 am.

Kankanit Wichiantanon
Writer, Bangkok
Kankanit is a writer by day and a baker by night. If there’s one thing you should know about her, it’s that she can wax poetic about food 24/7. Her daily routine is writing, cooking, eating, repeat. They are the things that inspire her from morning 'til night.