HOT: Cibi, 45 Keele St, Collingwood

Cibi 45 Keele St Collingwood

I have two friends who are a couple. J is Asian and would like nothing better than a bowl of rice or noodles for breakfast. B is Anglo and in the morning the most substantial thing he can deal with  is eggs and toast.

I think I’ve just found the perfect place for them to have their breakfast dates. At Japanese-styled cafe Cibi, those who sit in B’s camp can order a Western style breakfast of the eggs and toast variety. On Saturday mornings those who lean towards more of J’s style can be served a traditional Japanese breakfast. For $14.50 you receive a substantial feed of rice, a piece of grilled salmon (they also have a vegetarian option), slices of egg omelette, pickled vegetables, Japanese potato salad and a large bowl of miso soup complete with hand hewn wooden soup ladle. Paired with a pot of Japanese green tea, it’s a healthy and hearty start to the day.

Cibi 45 Keele St Collingwood

Cibi 45 Keele St Collingwood

The Western/Eastern pairings continue with the delicious baked goods made by the owner’s wife. On one side of the counter, beautiful frangipani tarts laden with juicy berries. On the other side, green tea (matcha) muffins hiding a smear of red bean paste inside ($3.50). These unusual muffins were so moist and moreish – I had one straight out of the oven and then took another one home.

Cibi 45 Keele St Collingwood

Cibi 45 Keele St Collingwood

The space’s simple and refined aesthetic  is also a combination of Japanese elegance and Western warehouse chic. There’s a general friendliness and ease about the place. A large blackboard rests on one wall where customers scrawl their notes to Cibi and each other, and across it the Cibi staff have said ‘Thank you for everyone for hanging out at Cibi‘. Awww.

Each of the mismatched mid-century chairs has been restored by the owner Zenta, a trained architect, and sourced from a combination of junk shops and Zenta’s contacts in Denmark. I love the organic shape of the communal table which takes centre stage in the light-filled room and the way in which it echoes the waves of the traditional Japanese wood block print hanging on the white-washed wall.

Cibi 45 Keele St Collingwood

For the curious observer there are many nooks and crannies filled with interesting objects like vases and old books, and a whole section of Cibi is devoted to the display and sale of goods imported from Japan, from ceramics to fabrics to kitchenware. I particularly loved the pastel porcelain of the rice bowls by Masahiro Mori.

Finally, I also had an interesting chat with one of the waiters, Leo Greenfield. When he’s not working at Cibi, Leo is a recent VCA visual arts graduate who majored in sculpture and has a side project publishing his sketches of Australian street fashion at The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even. Go check it out!

Cibi on Urbanspoon

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11 thoughts on “HOT: Cibi, 45 Keele St, Collingwood

  1. Joyce,

    Nice review, it’s a great place. (Even better is that I live in Keele Street).

    Just to let you know, above the Urbanspoon logo, you have the address listed as Peele St, not Keele.


    • Hi Miss Kish

      That is really too uncanny. Did you eat anything with your green tea? Ruth said that Cibi doesn’t present many options for vegetarians and given that you are vegetarian I also wondered whether you had the same problem with a limited menu.

      Jetsetting Joyce

      • They do have a decent range of vego options (or “decent” relative to the size of the menu), just not the Japanese stuff. There are several toast things (the hard boiled egg and capers on toast is really delicious, albeit very small), muesli with fruit and yoghurt (a bit sweet for my breakfast tastes, and I prefer something I can’t make at home when eating out, but I’m sure others would love it), and several sandwiches, including a tofu “burger”, which I’m yet to try. I believe the potato salad is vegetarian.
        .-= Ruth´s last blog ..The youngest food blogger in Melbourne? =-.

  2. “they also have a vegetarian option”

    Common misconception — they have a “more vegetables” version without the salmon, but it isn’t vegetarian, as it’s made with fish sauce. Same with the miso and the soba salad.

    This makes me a sad vegetarian panda, as I do love Cibi. Even when busy, it’s a really relaxing place to spend a Saturday morning with the papers and a pot of brown rice tea. But unfortunately, they’re a bit light-on for Japanese vego stuff.
    .-= Ruth´s last blog ..The best things I ate in 2009 =-.

    • Hi Ruth

      Are you certain that the dishes were made with fish sauce? Fish sauce is not an ingredient I would normally expect to find in Japanese cuisine, especially dishes like miso soup.

      Jetsetting Joyce

    • Ah, fish stock sounds more likely. Not being vegetarian I’d never considered the issue before but a lot of Japanese food could be a problem as they do rely on fish stock/some forms of dashi stock in a lot of their cooking.

      Jetsetting Joyce

  3. Only just read this – was planning on going back because I saw them straining noodles which looked delish. I think being a non-egg eater might be a drama – (although I do eat them in noodles…..). Will keep you posted – sorry I don’t have a more decisive verdict for you! K
    .-= Kish´s last blog ..Willim Espresso =-.

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