Fast food is a brainless commodity in this era of living in the fast lane. And one of the mightiest kings of this game is the hamburger, yet unfortunately, the adjective ‘healthy’ just doesn’t ring with it. As an alternative, Gregory Sams invented the veggie burger in 1982. Sams served regulars including John Lennon and Yoko Ono back in the kaleidoscope days of the hippie movement in the United States. In Indonesia, Sam’s infamous seitan-based patties were brought in by the vegetarian movement in Ubud in the 1990s and through years and years of being explored by the many chefs of the land; it has now become an extravagant choice of herbs and marinated vegetable patties.
In this Spartan-like Jakarta, where small businesses and entrepreneurs are often eaten by our monster economy, Burgreens (Jakarta’s first vegetarian burger joint) has slowly but wholeheartedly rocketed – this new restaurant has topped the charts in Tripadvisor, scoring first place out of 5,358 listed eateries and other tummy-spoiling places. Nestled in a green, petite terrace down in Rempoa, customers can experience the creations of Max Mandias at Burgreens who has explored the potential of veggie burgers with various combinations including three mixtures of herbed beans, oat-mushroom and spinach and garbanzo.
Founded by Max and Helga Angela in 2013, Burgreens has rapidly kept up with the gastronomical scenery of hungry Jakarta. Supported by a team of creative young minds ranging from various backgrounds, Max plays with his creative skills, sending plates straight to the tables of the hungry – take your pick from the generous-sized mushroom steak in black-pepper sauce to the feel-good tofu spread on whole wheat toast, topped with avocado & pumpkin seeds.
Healthy, delicious food and a whole array of green smoothies are not the only things covered by the bill. Burgreens are trying to approach many environmental issues including the well-known waste producing food industry – it’s an admission ticket worth paying for in order to become a conscious fork and spoon user. Organic ingredients are sourced locally and often fairly-traded. “We want to raise awareness about conscious eating. I think that in Jakarta, most people care only about the taste and the price and they don’t think about how our food choice can directly impact our health and the environment” said Helga as we sat under their Frangipani canopy. Glancing at their sturdy red amaranth and popping green and red chillies, Reo their digital marketing head added “We are planting vegetables in our garden, and raising awareness and knowledge about creating a garden in an urban space.”
Burgreens also hold movie screenings focusing on ongoing environmental issues, followed by discussions on the topic. They are one step away from acquiring a composter to manage their organic food waste, and they also reward the habit of re-using paper, plastic and glass items by providing a price discount to their customers. Towering as a hub for sustainable and healthy living, Burgreens are attracting interesting minds to gather around their circular garden tables. One of them is Reza Gunawan, a spiritual teacher and husband of the writer Dewi Lestari – Reza has plans to lead meditation sessions at their pad in the upcoming months. Burgreens are slowly, but surely, clawing their paws up the rounceval hill of green businesses.
The restaurant also gives full support to local, organic farmers – the real forgotten experts of the earth that are growing lettuce, basil, mushroom and zucchini across the hills of Java. “Later, in October, we are joining the Organic Green and Healthy Expo and we also have plans to organize an organic market there, so we want to bring some of our organic farmers so they get to meet our customers” added Helga. Burgreens are currently working with YUM organic farm in Cipanas, YUM stands for Yayasan Cipta Mulia. By establishing a healthy consumer-producer mutual relationship, Burgreens are starting an ethical, fair game, for both sides.
As an array of six mini veggie burgers on homely china plates is neatly presented before me, Helga blurts out excitedly, “Max has this theory about energy, he’s very passionate about healing – he learnt this technique called reiki and he believes that what we put into our body through food will be the energy that we release. So he wants to make sure that we are getting good energy in our body.” And so I politely excuse myself and drown in the pure world of oat milk and lentil patties while a sitar and tabla song by Ravi Shankar, gently flows out.
Words by Max Geraldi
Photos courtesy of Burgreens
Jl. Flamboyan No.19
Rempoa, Jakarta Selatan
+628788 200 5070 / +6221 7388 9164
Tuesday – Friday
Delivery: 10am – 8pm
Dine-in: 12.30pm – 9.30pm
Saturday – Sunday
10.30am – 9.30pm
Yum Organic Farm: http://www.yumindonesia.org/