EH HE Gallery | Ink Brew Cafe by JWC – Coffee with Nostalgia in Johor Bahru
The cafe scene in Johor Bahru is booming, with more interesting concepts coming up. One of them is Ink Brew by JWC with the adjoining Eh He The Classic Accents Art House, occupying seven units of old shops at the top of Jalan Trus that also enjoys road frontage at Jalan Ibrahim and Jalan Tan Hiok Nee.
You must be wondering what’s Eh He? Well, it’s is derived from E(art)h He(art), which hopes to bring out the purpose that art is all around us and it is not something separate from life. Everywhere you look you see art, we are all artists creating our own masterpiece. Even the name is so artistic already, who would even thought of that!
As we walked up the narrow staircase to the second floor, it felt like we had boarded a time machine and arrived in 1960s time zone. There were oldies being played in the background, with retro cabinets, lamps, furniture and even rediffusion! There are also listening stations around the gallery where you can tune in to yesteryear operas and conversations spoken in various dialects.
During our visit, Teochew Puppet & Opera House Penang were holding an exhibition in the gallery. Teochew opera is extremely popular in olden days of Penang, and usually performed at an outdoor stage to coincide with some religious festivals. Here, we can see a mock-up of the stage setup, together with many literature, music and elaborate costumes.
At the ground floor, Ink Brew by Just Want Coffee makes you a cup of designer coffee specially created by Nelson Lai as you stare blankly at the streets, watching the cars drive by. One of the interesting coffee is “游神 – 五帮共和” (Chingay Coffee, RM16.80). Made from 5 different coffee beans, this coffee is created to honour the unity of people from 5 different Chinese clans who came from China (Hokkien, Teochew, Hakka, Hainanese and Cantonese). Surprisingly, as you sip the coffee, it creates a balance in the flavour profiles.
Another of their signatures is the 陈旭年咖啡 (Hiok Nee Coffee, RM16.80). After a mouthful of cream and a mouthful of orange peel, I took three sips of coffee. The first sip – bitter. The second sip – sour. The third sip – fragrant. Just like life, we must taste the bitterness before we can appreciate the sweetness. 好样的！
Food is also on the serve. We ordered this pizza called The Garden (RM15.90) that has been designed by a nutritionist. It contains a lot of veggies on a thin pizza dough. For waffles lover, you can either go for their sweet (Balloon Waffle, RM17.90) or savoury ones (Forest Waffle RM16.50).
At the top of the stairs, there is a huge mural drawn by one of the owners, Pauline See. The little girl in the photo represents our younger self when we have our dreams and aspirations. But as we grew older, we often succumb to temptations that stopped us from pursuing our dreams.
We spent our afternoon at Ink Brew, soaking in the artistic atmosphere while sipping our coffee. Do you know, this place used to be a textile shop? Even though it was left vacant for many years, I appreciate the young owners’ efforts and determination to convert this into a heritage space, with the hope to promote arts in JB. I have done a video on Eh He gallery for your viewing pleasure, hope you enjoyed it!
EH HE Gallery | Ink Brew by JWC Cafe 墨跡手沖館
Address: No. 1, Jalan Trus, Bandar Johor Bahru 80000, Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia. Junction of Jalan Trus and Jalan Tan Hiok Nee (just beside Hiap Joo Bakery)
GPS: 1.456531, 103.764649
Hours: 12:00 noon to 11:00 pm daily