First Look: 9Bar HNL in Kaka‘ako
Try giant scone-and-muffin pastries called scuffins.
9bar HNL at Salt in Our Kaka‘ako isn’t just about coffee and scuffins. It serves meals, too, including bowls and burritos. From left, the Cali Bowl, the burrito and the Aloha Bowl (our favorite).
Photos: Maria Kanai
It was the “#scuffins” that caught our attention.
These giant scone-and-muffin hybrids have been sprawled all over 9Bar HNL’s Instagram for days now, and our tingling foodie senses told us to head down to Kaka‘ako ASAP.
Open since August, 9Bar HNL is a specialty coffee and bake shop in Salt at Our Kaka‘ako. There’s no fighting for parking, and it’s free for the first hour with validation. Stores including Mr. Tea, Starbucks, Highway Inn, Paiko and, most recently, Moku Kitchen, are slowly but surely making Salt a local destination.
SEE ALSO: First Look: Moku Kitchen in Kaka‘ako
We walked into 9Bar on a weekday at around noon, and the small shop was packed with people on their lunch break, students studying and girlfriends chatting. Owned by husband-and-wife team Steve and Tracey Seta, 9Bar is named after its high-tech espresso machine that uses nine bars of pressure for all its espresso drinks, extracting as much flavor as possible from the coffee. The shop’s got a sleek and modern vibe that contrasts nicely with the rustic tables and chairs. Photographs by local artists hang on the white walls, available for sale, and there’s a bakery case full of those scuffins ($4) we’d seen on IG. Other bakery items included an assortment of cookies and double chocolate chip peanut butter cream sandwiches.
The size of the scuffins reminds us of Diamond Head Bakery’s enormous cream cheese scones. But 9Bar’s version tastes just a little less cakey and decadent, and leans more towards a traditional scone with a drier, firmer texture. We like how there are different flavor combos, like the white chocolate matcha (our favorite), strawberry and cream cheese (our second favorite), cranberry white chocolate mac nut, and coffee and chocolate. You could eat one scuffin for breakfast and be full all morning. Tip: Get them warmed up!
Being on the drier end doesn’t make these scuffins bad. Like any good scone, it goes well with coffee, particularly the Cloud 9 Trio ($6.50), which includes a shot of espresso, a cortado and sparkling water. Or a hot latte with pretty art ($3.75). And, if you’re not that into caffeine, get the hot chocolate milk ($3.50); watching the barista torch the marshmallows was a crowd pleaser.
The display case with 9Bar’s already-famous scuffins and other baked goods.
Like any good coffee bar, 9Bar HNL serves up a variety of coffee drinks including a hot lattes with pretty art.
On the savory side, we tried the Aloha Bowl ($9.50), with a house-made sausage patty on top of furikake rice, poached eggs, kim chee and queso fresco. There’s also the Cali Bowl ($9.50) that has roasted potatoes and bacon, poached eggs, sour cream with house-made guacamole, salsa and queso fresco. Between the two, the Aloha Bowl hit the spot. It’s got a nice, local blend of flavors with kim chee and furikake, and we liked how the sausage is unapologetically spicy and bold. We also liked the burrito ($8.50), made with your choice of bacon or sausage, potatoes, egg, queso fresco, guacamole and salsa.
There’s more on the drink menu we want to come back for, including the Nitro Cold Brew ($4.50), matcha latte ($3.75) and the affogato ($4.50). And 9Bar is asking customers to come up with ideas via social media for new scuffin flavors. So, if you’re reading this, 9Bar, we’re thinking, pumpkin and dark chocolate or a pecan and toffee for Thanksgiving? Go!
685 Auahi St., #118, 369-2299, 9barhnl.com
READ MORE STORIES BY MARIA KANAI