Hin Bus Depot in Penang


Hin Bus Depot is a former-bus depot-turned-creative hub, brimming with art galleries, cafes, bars, and artist studios. There are nooks and corners to chill out in throughout the week, although we reckon that Sunday afternoon is the best time to visit, for it’s when the place is bustling with a pop-up flea market, live music and street food stalls.

Hin Bus Depot’s transformation can be traced back to 2014, when Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic, the man behind Penang’s most famous street art murals, used the venue for his first solo exhibition. Today, the over-60,000 sq ft space is home to almost a dozen shophouses, having expanded to support not only artists but also chefs, baristas, bartenders and artisans in the community. Here are some things to do here:


1. Admire art installations


hin bus depot art installation Image credit: @hinbusdepot

At the heart of Hin Bus Depot are its indoor and outdoor art exhibits. It currently exhibits “Memories of George Town” by artist Lijynn. The exhibits – artwork, furniture, textiles, stationery and plants – have a theme that revolves around Chinese culture in the 60s and 70s, as the artist counts Chinese soot ink among her favourite mediums.

hin bus depot art installation
Image credit: @hinbusdepot

Outdoors, hard to miss are artworks given a makeover in this time of COVID-19. The cherub sculptures by Malaysian artist Low Chee Peng, whose expertise lie in stone grinding and steel cutting, reflect our newfound fervency for hand-washing, social distancing and wearing face masks. 

hin bus depot art installation
Image credit: @hinbusdepot

Adorning the walls are murals done by local and international artists alike, and include art pieces by Ernest Zacharevic. The boy wearing a traffic cone on his head is a nod to games Baby Boomers played during childhood. 

hin bus depot art installation
Image credit: @hinbusdepot

Behind the mini skate ramp is a mural titled “Reciprocity”, which features a pair of black swans and was created by Madrid-based Sabek for the Urban Xchange festival in 2015. 

hin bus depot art installation
Image credit: @hinbusdepot

Parked just by the Jalan Gurdwara entrance is an up-cycled Sally Carrera. In a way, it symbolises the dilapidated bus depot’s transformation journey from abandoned space to creative hotspot. 

Address: 31A Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town Penang
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 12PM-7PM | Sat & Sun 11AM-7PM | The car park is open from 10AM-10PM daily.
Website


2. Enjoy a taste of modern European fare made with local ingredients at Restaurant Au Jardin


hin bus depot restaurant au jardin
Image credit: @restaurantaujardin

18-seater Restaurant Au Jardin is housed in an old warehouse and exudes a vibe that is simultaneously elegant and nostalgic. The postwar house door, affectionately dubbed “The Quaint Blue Door”, is one of the warehouse’s most eye-catching features and a prime example of how the team has kept certain charming characteristics from yesteryear while modernising the interior, turning it into a clean white space adorned with moss and creepers. 

hin bus depot restaurant au jardin chef kim hock su
Image credit: @restaurantaujardin

The man behind the upscale restaurant is Chef Kim Hock Su, who has 13 years of culinary experience under his belt. He had a stint in Taipei and represented Taiwan in the San Pellegrino Young Chef award. That sparked a lightbulb moment, as it dawned upon the Malaysian that he should be representing his home country instead, and spurred him to return to Malaysia to open this restaurant. 

hin bus depot restaurant au jardin strawberry dessert
“Imperfectly perfect” local strawberries – fruit that are not “perfectly formed” – are the star of this strawberry and cream dessert, its acidity balanced with rich lotus paste and buttermilk sorbet.
Image credit: @restaurantaujardin

At Au Jardin, dishes are created based on seasonal produce and the team strives to source ingredients from local farmers. The degustation menu is changed up monthly so hop over to their website for the latest updates. 

For a rough idea, September’s degustation menu (RM288) featured Hokkaido Scallop Tartare with nori crisp, yuzu, dashi and wasabi, Tandoori Pork Jowl with betel leaves, pickled daikon, quinoa crisps, shaved onions and strawberry jam, and a refreshing Tie Guan Yin sorbet as a palate cleanser. 

Address: The Warehouse, 125, Jalan Timah, 10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Thu – Sun 5PM-10PM (Closed on Mondays to Wednesdays)
Telephone: 012-429 7591
Website


3. Tuck into vegan cuisine at Wholey Wonder


hin bus depot wholey wonder
Image credit: @marlfunction

Escape the daily grind at Wholey Wonder with its rustic, hippie Bali-esque cafe vibe. Yoga studio upstairs, vegan food downstairs, this spot is all about nourishing a holistic lifestyle.

hin bus depot whole wonder sushi
Image credit: @wholeywonder

Here, dishes are made using organic ingredients and the menu is entirely plant-based – from don-don bowls and maki to coffees and smoothies. Thanks to a Japanese chef from Hokkaido, diners can look forward to trying the Akiko Maki (RM18), which is filled with healthful veggies and natto. For something hearty and wholesome, go for the Tempeh Katsu Bowl (RM20).

hin bus depot whole wonder salad
Image credit: @wholeywonder

Something unique with a familiar touch is the Sea Barley Milo (RM12), made with naturally roasted sea barley to resemble Malaysians’ favourite Milo beverage.

Address: 61, Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 11AM-9.30PM, Daily
Telephone: 012-616 9979
Website


4. Sink your teeth into halal burgers and shakes at Rumah Kacha


hin bus depot rumah kacha
Image credit: @rumahkacha

Decked out with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, potted plants and vases of greenery, the picturesque Rumah Kacha will have you feeling like you’re dining in a glasshouse. 

hin bus depot rumah kacha
Image credit: @rumahkacha

The halal restaurant specialises in American food with a local twist. Those hankering for a classic burger can go for Juicy Lucy Beef Burger (RM20) – homemade beef patty sandwiched between two halves of a fluffy bun, complete with cheese, BBQ sauce and caramelised onions, as well as fries and onion rings on the side. Wash it down with a rich strawberry banana, vanilla caramel or chocolate milkshake (RM15 each) or beat the heat with a refreshing Mango Fizz (RM10)

hin bus depot rumah kacha burger
Image credit: @rumahkacha

Just don’t forget to save room for some lip-smacking Hot Chicken Wings (RM13), marinated with garlic, lemon and herb, deep fried, and served with hot sauce. 

hin bus depot rumah kacha pasta
Image credit: @rumahkacha

On the pasta menu are some dishes with a local twist. Popular items include the Chicken Rendang Pasta (RM22) and Masak Lemak Cili Api With Chicken (RM22), in which baked chicken and fettuccine are cooked with homemade masak lemak sauce – creamy with a spicy kick.

Address: 31A Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Tue – Sun 11.30AM-9.30PM (Closed on Mondays)
Telephone: 014-307 4285
Website


5.  Browse handmade goods and stationery at Kiwe


hin bus depot kiwe
Image credit: @lorongandlaneshop

Selling shelves of fridge magnets, earrings, brooches, figurines, art prints and postcards, Kiwe is a treasure trove for souvenirs and little knick-knacks to add to your accessory collection and stationary kit. 

hin bus depot kiwe star wars brooches
Image credit: @kiwe_by_weez

Pop culture enthusiasts are bound to recognise Le Petit Prince notepads, Star Wars brooches, and Studio Ghibli washi tape. 

hin bus depot kiwe miniature nasi lemak accessory
Image credit: @weezconcept

Handmade miniature earrings (from RM15) come in the shape of bread, bao, gingerbread men, and kaya toast, although one of its most intricate designs has got to be the Nasi Lemak series. The ring and necklace are available for RM68, the earring for RM98 or RM108 depending on the size, and the brooch, RM120

hin bus depot kiwe miniature mask earrings
Image credit: @weezconcept

A few of the latest designs pay homage to everyone’s must-have “accessory”: Masks. Cute and culturally on point, the mask earrings are sold for RM22 and come in pink and blue. DM @weezconcept on Instagram the picture and they’ll follow up with the available colour choices and inventory level to avoid disappointment. 

Address: 31A Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Tue – Sun 11AM-6PM (Closed on Mondays)
Website


6. Try your hand at making pottery at Penang Japanese Ceramic Studio


hin bus depot japanese ceramic studio
Image credit: @jennifer_meichein

Mould clay into one-of-a-kind cups and bowls at the Penang Japanese Ceramic Studio. This pottery studio runs workshops suitable for both beginners and those familiar with pottery, as well as children and adults alike. There are limited time slots and spaces available, so it’s best to WhatsApp them at 011-5690 7518 to book ahead.

hin bus depot japanese ceramic studio
Image credit: @chyoki1207

If you aren’t keen on getting your hands dirty, ceramic wares such as sake cups and rice bowls are available for sale during the rest of opening hours.

Address: 31A Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Wed – Fri & Sun 11AM-4PM (Closed on Saturdays, Mondays and Tuesdays)
Telephone: 011-5690 7518
Website


7. Roll up your sleeves to DIY furniture at Woodsmen Makerspace


hin bus depot woodsmen makerspace
Image credit: @woodsmen_makerspace

If furniture design tickles your fancy, check out Woodsmen Makerspace which is right next door to the pottery studio. Its founder Nick Pereira is originally from Klang and now runs working workshops for adults and children. Reach out via 019-357 3679 for more details on classes and commissioned projects. 

hin bus depot woodsmen makerspace
Image credit: @woodsmen_makerspace

Learn to craft an egg holder from scratch or make a one-of-a-kind wooden box to hold your accessories. Even kids can try their hand at making toys and stools. 

Address: 31A Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang
Telephone: 019-357 3679
Website


8. Catch up over coffee at Bricklin Cafe and Bar


hin bus depot bricklin cafe and bar
Image credit: @bricklincafebarbyrbc

In a cosy corner right by the entrance of Hin Bus Depot is Bricklin Cafe and Bar. Curl up with a good book or catch up with friends at this chill spot that specialises in coffee drinks. 

You have your usual suspects – Espresso (RM7), Americano (RM9) and Flat White (RM11), as well as rarer finds such as the creamed-based White And Black Vienna (RM12). The co-owners are the men behind coffee consultation and brewing company Rasta Brew & Co and you know they’re serious about their java because they make their own Cold Brew (RM14)

hin bus depot bricklin cafe and bar coffee
Image credit: @bricklincafebarbyrbc

For something non-caffeinated, try the kombuchas, including the citrusy Zesty Glow (RM15) – bold, warm and punchy. 

hin bus depot bricklin cafe and bar bagel
Image credit: @bricklincafebarbyrbc

Complete your brunch fix by fuelling up on their Cream Cheese Bagel (RM12), Mr Muesli Bowl (RM18) or Laugh Pilaf Chicken Poke Bowl (RM22). The last is a hearty bowl of saffron tea-infused pilaf rice served with grilled chicken, Japanese cucumber, cherry tomatoes, melon seeds, chia seeds, roasted peanuts and sour cream raita.

Address: 31A Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town Penang
Opening hours: Wed – Mon 9AM-7PM (Closed on Tuesdays)
Telephone: 011-6268 6813
Website


9. Knock back cocktails at Good Friends Club


hin bus depot good friends club
Image credit: @goodfriendsclubpenang

Coming to life at night on the Hin Bus Depot premises is Good Friends Club, a bar-restaurant with old kopitiam vibes. The “Good Friends Never Bojio” neon lights is a recognisable feature of the place, and you can see it both from the main road and on Instagram pages of patrons. 

Treat yourself to local-inspired tipples such as the chilli-tinctured Penang Laksa Negroni (RM35) and smokey, herbal Pat Poh Old Fashioned (RM35) while munching on some Truffle Fries (RM20) and Lor Bak (RM20)

Cocktails aside, Good Friends Club also serves some craft beers priced from RM28 to RM32 a pop. 

hin bus depot good friends club cocktails
Image credit: @ahon90

Address: 39 Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Mon – Thu & Sun 7PM-1AM | Fri & Sat 7PM-2AM
Telephone: 010-550 1204
Website


10. Shop for street fashion at The Swagger Salon 


hin bus depot the swagger salon
Image credit: @theswaggersalon

Inspired by the streetwear movement and hip hop culture, home-grown The Swagger Salon first established its online presence in 2010, selling tongue-in-cheek clothing and accessory designs.

hin bus depot the swagger salon tshirts
Image credit: @theswaggersalon

In 2014, The Swagger Salon opened the doors to its flagship boutique at Hin Bus Depot. Browse the selection either in-person or online and you’re bound to come across the colloquial phrase “lansi” (a vulgar slang that means cocky or arrogant) on T-shirts (RM70) and caps (RM99).

Address: 37 Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Tue – Fri 12PM-8PM | Sat & Sun 12PM-9PM (Closed on Mondays)
Telephone: 04-226 3081
Website


11. Trawl through crafts items and munch on snacks at the Sunday pop-up market


hin bus depot sunday pop up market
Image credit: @hinmarket

Hin Bus Depot is especially busy and bustling on Sundays with the pop-up market ongoing from 11AM to 5PM. It’s when you’ll see artisanal craftsmen and street vendors hawk handmade wares and yummy eats. Thrift shoppers might also spot a second-hand clothing stall or two.

hin bus depot sunday pop up market coffee
Image credit: nui.coffeee

Caffeine lovers should keep your peepers peeled for Nui. The baristas behind the stall marry the quintessential kopi aroma with the fluffiness of egg froth in its Vietnamese Egg Coffee (RM7, hot and cold versions available) and Penang Egg Coffee (RM7, hot and cold versions available). It also serves yew char kway (otherwise known as youtiao, or dough fritters) at RM1 for every golden-brown, deep-fried strip of dough, while its sister brand Nest sells baked egg in a turkey bacon cup with cheese and spinach (RM5).

Address: 31A Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 11AM-5PM (Only on Sundays)
Website


Guide to Hin Bus Depot. Penang


Penang is best known for its foodie scene and street art, and these features are perhaps encapsulated no better than in arts enclave Hin Bus Depot. It has everything for everyone, and it’s no secret that it appeals to both locals and tourists alike. 

Also check out our other stories:


Cover image adapted from: @wholeywonder, @kiwe_by_weez, @hinmarket and @woodsmen_makerspace

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