Hijoo, a fun place to enjoy delicious vegetables

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Healthy fare is the specialty of Hijoo restaurant, South Jakarta. (Photo: Kartika Indah)

IO – Maintaining strong health and stamina is a necessity, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the best ways to maintain one’s physical condition is by consuming healthful foods, such as vegetables and legumes rich in fiber and antioxidants. However, many people refuse to take this easy way because they say that vegetables and legumes taste bad. However, that’s not true. Variables in the vegetables and legumes menu, such as salads and soups, make use of their inherently delicious taste. In order to get more people to appreciate the deliciousness of vegetables and legumes and stay healthier, Iman Hakiki or Kiki, together with his business partners Jesslyn and Galih, opened the Hijoo Salad restaurant in September 2020. 

Kiki wants the restaurant to become the bridge between people who want to get better nutrition with delicious, good quality vegetables and legumes. He wants to mix healthy eating with fun. He hopes to contribute to people’s healthy lifestyle choices, which starts with mindful eating. 

On the other hand, Kiki admits that he opened his restaurant as part of his effort to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic forced him out of his comfort zone of being an MC. “I think that the food and beverage business is the best one to survive on. I started by producing @fitmilk.id almond milk and continued by opening the @hijoo.id salad bar,” he said. 

Inspired Naming 

The name “Hijoo” is a variant spelling of the word “hijau” or “green”. Kiki chose this name not just because most vegetables are green. He also bases the name on the ancient Javanese phrase “ijo royo-royo”. Literally, it means a fresh, verdant green. Metaphorically, it signifies fertility, strong growth, and abundance. “It’s a sanepan, a metaphor about a person who is beneficial for those around them,” he said. 

Kiki sited his salad bar in FUA Center, next to Cipete Raya MRT Station, Jl. RS Fatmawati Raya, South Jakarta for its strategic location. Being right next to the Cipete MRT Station’s entry/exit doors, it should attract many customers easily. “Hijoo salad’s target market is both female and male, with a wide age range of being approachable from 18 to 50 years old, primarily seeking to attract 25 to 30-year-olds. In this age range, they have started to become aware of their health and they have an active lifestyle,” he said. 

Top Dishes in the Menu 

Hijoo’s concept is #dibikinseimbang or #balanceitout. They prioritize taste to accommodate those who have no previous liking of salad. Hijoo serves salad with healthful vegetable compositions at affordable price levels in comparison with other salad bars, with the further Indonesian-style twists. Hijoo salads come in both wrap and bowl forms. The six items in there are Salad Pasaran, Urapan, Griki, Kayak Asinan, Lokal Koo, and Sarapan Bule. Available beverages include almond milk and cinnamon milk, with possible new beverages to be developed in the future. “This is in line with my personal philosophy of “being a life student forever”. Our menu has two items based on traditional Indonesian cuisine, the Urapan and Kayak Asinan. Our best seller is the Pasaran or Caesar salad,” he said. 

Salad Pasaran (“The Kind of Salad You Find in the Traditional Market”) contains Romaine lettuce, grilled chicken and smoked beef slices, croutons, Parmesan, with Caesar dressing. Sarapan Bule contains Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, caramelized onion, scrambled eggs, pickled red lettuce, and honey mustard dressing. Urapan or vegetable with grated coconut also contains grilled chicken, grilled sweet corn, tempe bacem or fermented sweet tempe, kecipir (winged bean), summer squash, cherry tomatoes, mung bean sprouts, with sambal matah cream dressing. It is a mildly spicy sambal cream and is highly recommended. Griki, inspired by Greek-style salad, is comprised of Romaine lettuce, meatballs, red and yellow Bell peppers, Japanese cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, pickled red lettuce, and pickled onions with garlic yoghurt dressing. Kayak Asinan (“Like Traditional Fermented Veggies”) contains Romaine lettuce, watercress, grilled tofu, carrots, Japanese cucumbers, salted Napa cabbage, pineapples, mung bean sprouts, peanuts, and wansui (cilantro) with a house dressing that is similar to cakwe sauce. Lokal Joo is made with Romaine lettuce, watercress, Japanese cucumbers, zucchini, grilled chicken, and basil with sambal mayo dressing. 

Kiki hopes that more and more people will enjoy eating salad as time goes by. He frequently hears people complain that healthy food is expensive, therefore he offers salad wrap and grains as simple and affordable daily food. He further tweaks his salads with local ingredients and tastes familiar to Indonesians. “Hijoo’s products may be not the healthiest of all, but they can at least balance your ingestion of carbohydrates, proteins, and vegetable fibers without a sense of sacrifice due to tastelessness or high prices. I hope that customers can accept Hijoo dishes as delicious and fun daily meals,” he said. 

Online Sales 

During the second Large- Scaled Social Restriction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hijoo serves take away meals and delivers through both GoFood and GrabFood. It has a dedicated WhatsApp number (081212959572) specifically for GoFood and GrabFood deliveries. Even though its premises can seat up to 15 customers at one time, it currently does not serve dine ins. Its primary strategy as a new restaurant is building a close relationship with its customers. “We believe that good relations with our customers are based on good quality and delicious taste. These will generate feedback in the form of equally good word of mouth promotions and recommendations,” Kiki said. (Kartika Indah)