Toilet-themed cafes and restaurants aren’t new, as the craze for “loo eateries” have popped up in various locations including Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, the US, and even Russia. These days, our friends in Indonesia have been flocking to their very own toilet-themed eatery, aptly named the “Jamban Cafe”.
Note: For those of you who are not in the know, “jamban” in the Malay language means “toilet”.
The “Jamban Cafe” resembles a normal toilet, where guests sit on upright toilets around a table and squat toilets are used as serving bowls. But don’t let the otherwise stomach-churning appearance fool you because everything is sterilised in the questionable-looking restaurant, according to Sukardi, a waiter at the eatery.
We know what you’re thinking. “But what do people eat there?”, right? The restaurant currently only serves the traditional Indonesian “bakso” (Indonesian meatball), various types of coffee, ice fruit snacks, and ice tea syrup.
There’s a high change that not many people will be able to stomach a meal of meatballs floating in squat loo, and that’s okay because for those who can’t, there’s a sick bag conveniently hanging by the entrance.
When asked about his decision to open the restaurant, Budi Laksono said that the cafe is not just for amusement but also to serve as a discussion space for people who care about public sanitation and hygiene.
Note: Indonesia has one of the world’s highest rates of open defecation i.e. defecating outside and not in a designated toilet and it’s due to the fact that millions of Indonesians live below the poverty line. In fact, the WHO/UNICEF JMP reports estimates that there are around 55 million people practicing open defecation in the country, or one quarter approximately of the population. This is the 2nd highest country total, after India.
The 52-year-old “Jamban Cafe” owner, who used to work for the local government as a public health expert, hosts discussions with customers and shows them videos to encourage people to use dedicated facilities for their bodily functions. However, Laksono admitted that his unusual approach did spark some controvery in the Muslim-majority country.
“Many critics say the café is inappropriate and against Islamic law,” he said.
The “Jamban Cafe” has been open for business since May this year. Located in Semarang on Java island, it only welcomes small groups who book ahead.
After looking at the photos, would you dine in Jamban Cafe?