M. Zakky Ramadhany
Everybody wants to look fit and healthy, and there are many ways to do this. Healthy lifestyles can include exercising and changing eating habits. For example, by going vegan.
Unlike vegetarians, who do not eat meat but may still eat eggs and dairy products, vegans eat only food that comes from plants. Fulfilling dietary needs this way can be a difficult task, but several restaurants have popped up in Indonesia in recent years to fill this market niche.
One place that is developing a following in Bandung is Kehidupan Tidak Pernah Berakhir, a vegan restaurant strategically located at Jl. Padjajaran No. 63. It is close to the train station, airport and one of the city’s biggest malls.
The lengthy name, which means “life never ends,” is quite a mouthful but it certainly is memorable. At first, I could not believe that there was a restaurant with a name — or should we say, sentence — like this.
Since opening in May 2012, KTPB has attracted the attention of many customers, mainly those who are concerned about having a healthy lifestyle. The enthusiasm for vegan eateries in Bandung is quite big, judging from the continually increasing number of visitors. There are already two branches in Jakarta, under the name Satu Dunia Satu Cinta (One World One Love), which can be found in North and East Jakarta.
Although I am not a vegetarian, let alone a vegan, I thought there was nothing wrong with trying KTPB for a new experience in the culinary world. Entering the restaurant, I couldn’t get to the food straight away. First, I had to pass through two rooms. The first held a souvenir stand displaying Kerupuk Kehidupan, or “Life Crackers.” There was also assortment of healthy snacks made from vegetables, such as seaweed crackers.
According to a KTPB manager, the crackers are a way of spreading information about veganism. Carrying the crackers is like carrying veganism wherever we go.
The second room held an information stand. Here, information about global warming, spirituality and healthy vegan lifestyles was shown on television screens. The information came from Supreme Master TV, run by a spiritual organization from Vietnam that promotes veganism as a path to enlightenment.
Interestingly, we could get free copies of the information by just asking the staff.
Finally, I came to the restaurant. The room was dominated by the color white, with white tables and chairs separated by a row of sunflowers. On the white walls there were also photos of famous people such as Mike Tyson and Ban Ki-moon, with their testimonies on being vegetarian or vegan.
One was a quote from the scientist Albert Einstein, who once said: “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” On another wall was a photo of Mike Tyson kissing a dove, accompanied with the words: “Vegan: Love Animals, Don’t Eat Them.”
When I visited KTPB the atmosphere was quite rowdy as visitors lined up to choose their food. Each visitor chose from the buffet, and a server placed their choice in a simple wicker bowl lined with brown paper.
When I saw the price, I could see why there were so many people here — we could buy rice plus four kinds of vegetables for only Rp 6,000 (62 cents). The manager told me the prices are kept low to accommodate those who want to eat healthily at an affordable price. For that reason, you can see people from all walks of life here, from those who scrape by to wealthy entertainers.
When I reached the buffet, it was my turn to become a vegan, if only for a night. I ordered rice, sayur bayam dengan jagung (spinach and corn), chasio (char siu), sate ayam (chicken satay), ayam kalasan (coconut chicken) and sweet iced tea.
Of course, the chicken dishes were not made of meat. Instead, they were made of soy shaped to look like meat.
And the taste? The satay was almost identical to the chicken satay that I usually eat. The coconut chicken was also tasty and had a crunchy texture. Very delicious. Meanwhile, the soy char siu came out looking more like a sausage.
I spoke to Yoan, a 23-year-old university student from Bandung who was visiting KTPB for the first time. He said he was drawn to the restaurant by the unusual name. “I like the muton lada hitam [black pepper mutton] and chicken roll. They taste good,” Yoan said.
While enjoying the food, I gazed at the wall decorated with photos of celebrities from around the world and their quotes about healthy living. Finally, I ended the culinary adventure by sipping on a glass of sweet iced tea. It was very refreshing and the perfect way to end a delicious meal.
This is surely one way we can find happiness in this life, even if it has to end at some point.
Kehidupan Tidak Pernah Berakhir Jalan Padjajaran No. 63, Bandung
Satu Dunia Satu Cinta Jalan A1 No. 34, Teluk Gong, North Jakarta ITC Cempaka Mas, East Jakarta Food court level 5
M. Zakky Ramadhany