The OD’s Thai 9: a stand-by
with some stand-outs


Thai 9’s Shitake Tempura

By Paula Johnson

When I think of Thai food, I don’t usually think of it being served in an interesting space that’s also noted for cocktails. It’s one of the reasons I’ve always like the Oregon District’s Thai 9, and it’s one of the reasons I was surprised on my last visit. We arrived early to meet a friend, and we found ourselves at the small bar at the patio entrance (one of my favorite patios when the weather cooperates). I mentioned the space, and it’s worth mentioning again. It’s a former industrial space with a warehouse feel. There’s exposed brick and beams, with dining on different levels, including loft spaces overlooking the main room, and trailing greenery everywhere you look, makes for a cozy, welcoming atmosphere to dine in.

No Booze For You

I was in the mood for something to sip before I supped, and I perused the drink list. Nothing really sent me over the moon, so I asked the bartender if she could suggest a cocktail with some fizz. She couldn’t. I asked for a cocktail she didn’t know how to make, and ended up not ordering anything at all. Fortunately, things improved once we left the bar, and we were seated upon my friend’s arrival.

We began with two appetizer dishes our server recommended, plus two of our choosing. Ironically, the two recommended dishes, Shitake Tempura ($6.50) and Coconut Shrimp ($8.95), turned out to be the only dishes we didn’t like. The mushrooms really missed the mark. Good tempura should be light and lacy in texture, definitely not thick and bready or greasy. Sadly, the coating on these mushrooms was closer to a beer-battered bar snack than the airy delicacy of tempura. Fried foods continued to be a miss for Thai 9, as we found with the Coconut Shrimp, another dish that depends upon good frying technique. In this case, the shrimp were generous and large, but suffered from their coating, tasting distinctly pasty and undercooked. None of us were fans of the bland dipping sauce served alongside the shrimp.

However, redemption was on the way throughout the rest of the meal. We enjoyed the crisp—yes, fried—Spring Rolls ($4.00), and really loved the Fish Cakes ($6.95). These are a must try (also fried). Flavors of curry and fish paste with kaffir lime combine in a slightly spongy, eggy disk, dipped in a sweet hot sauce, and the result is simply delicious.

Seventh Heaven

As an entree I ordered something I absolutely loved and can’t wait to try again, the Beef Salad ($14.95). Slices of grilled beef, onion, tomatoes, and cilantro, are marinated in a tangy dressing with garlic, ginger, lime, and chili. It’s so flavorful, and it’s most wonderful with the white rice served alongside to soak up the liquid. I ordered mine spiced at level seven, making the rice not only delicious, but necessary. I’m a fan of heat, and this was about my limit.

Favoring Curry

We tried spice level five for the other entree dish we chose, Massaman Curry with tofu, shrimp, and pork ($14.95 plus $2.00 each for pork and shrimp). Thai cuisine is famous for its curries, but this one is a bit of a departure. Its name comes from the word “matsaman.” Not a native Thai word, it’s generally thought to refer to Muslims. This curry incorporates coconut milk, onions, peanuts or cashews, potatoes, bay leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon, star anise, fish sauce, chili, and tamarind sauce. A lot of these ingredients came to Thailand through Muslim traders from the Middle East, hence the name. These flavors and ingredients are married with more local ones such as dried chili peppers, coriander, lemongrass, galangal, and shrimp paste to make the Massaman curry paste. Massaman is my absolute favorite curry, and Thai 9›s version is a really good one. 

Despite the stumbles at the evening›s beginning, Thai 9 remains a restaurant I will visit again. The dishes which succeeded, Fish Cakes, Beef Salad, and Massaman Curry, are praise-and-order-worthy, and I have no hesitation in recommending them. I›m hoping for more dishes like these when I return. Along with a cocktail.

Thai 9 is located on 11 Brown Street in Dayton’s Historic Oregon District. Their hours for lunch are Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., their dinner hours are Sunday through Thursday 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday they are open from 5 p.m.-10 p.m. For more information please visit Thai9Restaurant.com.

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Paula Johnson
Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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