A subtle, minimalist sign in green that reads “déj vegetarianism” leads to a tall glass door that reveals a cozy space with artsy unfinished flooring and walls that exude a sense of rawness that compels you to look closer. Thanks to the glass doors and sun roof, ample soft, filtered sunlight fills the alluring space – and there’s more glass yet!
As Talita Setyadi, founder of the ever-popular Beau by Talita Setyadi, explained, “The design for déj was conceptualized with designer Danny Wicaksono from studio dasar and also with Stylist and Creative Director Marshella Jastine. The idea is to bring out our vision of laid-back simplicity. Like Beau, we wanted a canvas in which the food can really stand out. What we’re doing playing with glass and a lot of raw, concrete elements are meant to reflect our belief in transparency and good, simple food. We are not trying too hard to push anything.”
Inspired by ‘déjeneur’, or how the French say lunch, and usually abbreviated to ‘dej’ – the idea that déj is promoting is already catching on Jakarta’s F&B scene. “We live in an era where there are so many coffee shops everywhere, and Jakarta is spoilt for choice. Now, I wanted to see if I can do a café that is full-on vegetarian. We are doing something different not just for the sake of being different, but for the sake of the environment while also catering to customers that are concerned about their eating habits,” Talita added.
Indeed, many a study have shown the environmental damage done by over-consumption of meat products as well as its effect on one’s health, and not to mention questionable farming practices found on some parts for the world for the sake of sheer profit. With this in mind, déj is trying to start a movement towards more plant-based delicious cuisines as opposed to one that is still centered on meat, poultries, or fish.
“The idea started from my own personal journey in discovering that I felt better through reducedmeat consumption, and just from that I wondered if I could start to impart my own personal values into my business. Now that I’m fully vegetarian I want to see if my subsequent businesses could adhere to those values. I also wanted to start the conversation on the subject because someone needs to,” Talita added regarding her inspiration for déj.
The all-plant menu at déj is inspired by healthy food brands like Pret A Manger and Ottelenghi. “I love the concept of Ottolenghi’s ever-changing salad menu that never fails to surprise people, and that allows them to enjoy a widely varied menu, and of course the menu is mostly plant-based, Mediterranean-inspired cuisines. And what I like about Pret A Manger is the convenient, on-the-go options. Now with the concept of GO-JEK, I’m trying to create the same concept of convenience and health in a similar way here in Jakarta.”
One of the most popular signature dishes is the Watermelon Salad, which puts together generous chunks of watermelon with quinoa and mixed vegetables and beans – a very fresh plate which infuses essential vitamins and fibers necessary to power through a day full of activities.
Chef Talita Setyadi also recommended a few of her personal favorite. “Definitely try the Kale Salad, which has raw kale with lemon, vinaigrette, and parmesan cheese. It is super delicious. For cakes I would recommend the Vegan Gluten-free Muffin, which is both delicious and fulfilling. Also, you have to try the Rainbow Frittata and enjoy the combination of spinach, tomato, and potato – a simple plate of delicious and healthy food that you can take and eat as you go.”
When deciding on the location for her new healthy food establishment, Talita certainly had the future in mind. déj is strategically located on Jalan Bumi, an area which has recently seen many new fitness concepts, such as Arena MMA Indonesia, Yoga Dham, and other establishments that promotes healthier living and fitness. “I know for sure that soon this area will be the next hub of healthy living in Jakarta. That’s one of the reasons I think the concept of déj will thrive in the area.”
With the rise of conscious eaters and an increasing concern for the environment in Jakarta, the establishment of déj could not be more perfect. “What’s really surprising is how quickly the vegetarian community embraced this concept. On Instagram I’ve been receiving messages asking about our food and whether our food are truly vegan and vegetarian, which I really love because that shows people care about the integrity of our food. People can rest assured that what we offer comes exactly as advertised. If I say its vegan, I really mean vegan. Even our pesto is vegan. Our dishes are also onion-free, so that’s perfect for those practicing Jain vegetarianism as well.”
A forward-thinking chef and entrepreneur, Talita has already laid out plans for her next contribution to the healthy food niche of Jakarta’s bustling F&B scene. She revealed that déj is but the first of many projects in relation to vegetarianism and vegan movement. “Our next project will be a vegan Padang restaurant, which will be coming up later this year. My partners and I hope for more animal-friend and Earth-friendly future for our F&B industry. Not trying to influence people to be vegetarian per say, but just for them to be more conscious of their eating habits and the environment.”
As for déj, the future looks bright, especially with the plan to open up more outlets at MRT stations and stops – a splendid way to conveniently help conscious eaters stay healthy on-the-go, and to preach the message of healthy eating to the society.
Jalan Bumi No. 20