9 Plus Bar



Occupying floor space of scarcely 20 sq ft, 9 Plus Bar lies opposite the Saffron restaurant, slightly west of clothing store Brand Nu. But you could easily walk back and forth past it a dozen times without realizing it’s there. Sooner or later, though, you’ll stumble across 9+ and wonder what it is. The bar’s name is a homophone of jiu (‘alcohol’) and ‘more’ (jia), which also puns on the Mandarin for ‘home’; devilishly clever. The window, stocked with empty bottles and the now-ubiquitous cupcake - a dainty seemingly hell-bent on world domination - suggests a café in the French style with room to support three tiny tables. At the back, there’s a counter (no room, alas, for a bar) on which was sat - on our visit - a hefty side of jamon next to one of those Japanese plastic cats whose paw rocks back and forth incessantly. Three blackboards offer a slightly odd selection of snacks, but the menu proper eventually arrives on a single iPad. There’s also another menu - the traditional paper kind - with around 30 bottles covering the usual regions. We went with the obvious: a small array of excellent bread and cheeses from the Fromager de Pekin (30 RMB) with a couple of glasses of wine. They normally have four by-the-glass options (including, unabashedly, a Blue Nun Liebfraumilch) of which we shared a Chateau La France (30/442 RMB) and a chilly Beaujolais Nouveau (30 RMB). They threw in some free serrano ham, too - it’s very friendly. Show-offs can enjoy a 2007 Lafite at 8,085 RMB a bottle if necessary. Or, more likely, one could plump for the surprise option of a half-dozen oysters plus ‘cup’ of wine (280 RMB), or try the cupcakes too.