BEST OF DAYTON: Thai 9 builds on atmosphere, consistency to remain Dayton dining staple

Dayton’s Thai 9 is having a standout year as far as Dayton-area diners are concerned.

The restaurant earned first-place finishes in this year’s Best of Dayton for Best Asian Food, Best Sushi and Best Thai Food. It also earned second place in Best Restaurant in the Oregon District.

This year’s sweep is a testament to how the Oregon District staple has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and maintained its reputation as the region’s main go-to for authentic Thai cuisine.

“We’re all so dedicated, we’re such a big family at Thai 9, it’s so cool to be part of that,” said RJ Voorink, Thai 9 general manager and longtime employee.

Thai 9 will celebrate its 19th anniversary next year Feb. 1. Debuting in 2003, Thai 9 was opened by owners Rob Strong and his wife who is from Thailand, Yaw.

For almost two decades, the restaurant has remained a standard of quality dining in Dayton, in large part because its had the same captain in the kitchen all that time.

“I think a lot of credit goes to the owner and head chef, Yaw,” Voorink said. “She’s always on it, always takes great pride in her food and her restaurant. She’s always on us when it comes to making sure that everything comes out right and tastes right. And looks great.”

Thai 9′s recipe for success also consists of strengths outside of its food.

“The building itself, is of course, a beautiful, old, historic building and it’s got a great atmosphere in there,” Voorink said. “But I think that besides of course the great food and everything, the family atmosphere that we have at Thai 9, and just the close-knit community that we have here in downtown Dayton, it’s all part of our success.”

Originally, the restaurant as it is now was a couple of separate buildings that Thai 9′s owners fused together upon opening.

In the past, Voorink said the building has been a fire station and police station. Where Thai 9′s kitchen now stands was the fire station’s horse stables for when fire departments used horse carriages instead of modern engines.

For some time, the building was a factory and a nightclub.

Once the building became the home of Thai 9, however, changes mostly have only come from thoughtful additions and changes in the restaurant’s menu.

The consistent experience that customers have come to appreciate at Thai 9 was a big help as the restaurant navigated the COVID-19 pandemic with its fellow Oregon District neighbors.

“There were tons of hurdles and nobody really knew what what to expect,” Voorink said. “And then there was mandates that kept changing and adjusting, so that was a little challenging for us.

“But, you know, we’ve built so many relationships over the years with customers and we have so many regulars that came out to support us, and a lot of people that made it their goal to come out and support local businesses and small shops. So, the community, again, helps us through it and helps make everything a lot easier.”

Thai 9

First Place: Best Asian Food

First Place: Best Sushi

First Place: Best Thai Food

Second Place: Best Restaurant in the Oregon District

11 Brown Street, Dayton


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