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HOT: Cibi, 45 Keele St, Collingwood

P1030748v1 HOT: 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.

P1030756v1 HOT: Cibi, 45 Keele St, Collingwood

P1030760v1 HOT: 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.

P1030743v1 HOT: Cibi, 45 Keele St, Collingwood

P1030740v1 HOT: 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.

P1030746v1 HOT: 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!

minilink HOT: Cibi, 45 Keele St, Collingwood

pixel HOT: Cibi, 45 Keele St, Collingwood


11 comments for “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.


    Posted by Matt | January 22, 2010, 8:40 am
  2. Another eatery on my must-do list when I’m in Melbourne. How I miss the Japanese breakfast (sigh!)

    Posted by mumkwok | January 22, 2010, 10:57 am
  3. You won’t believe it. I just went there this morning !! I had an amazing green tea with brown rice in it. It was delish.

    I thought with my Indonesia vacation – we would be totally out of sync ;)

    .-= Kish´s last blog ..Jalan Jalan Java – Part 1, Jakarta. =-.

    Posted by Kish
    Twitter: misskish
    | January 22, 2010, 4:27 pm
    • 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

      Posted by Jetsetting Joyce | January 25, 2010, 9:12 am
      • 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? =-.

        Posted by Ruth
        Twitter: rbbrown
        | January 25, 2010, 9:42 am
  4. “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 =-.

    Posted by Ruth
    Twitter: rbbrown
    | January 22, 2010, 5:23 pm
  5. *shrugs* that’s what the Japanese chick behind the counter said. I presume she meant more “fish stock” — I doubt they’d use your Thai/Viet-style fish sauce, yes.
    .-= Ruth´s last blog ..The youngest food blogger in Melbourne? =-.

    Posted by Ruth
    Twitter: rbbrown
    | January 25, 2010, 9:23 am
    • 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

      Posted by Jetsetting Joyce | January 25, 2010, 9:40 am
  6. 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 =-.

    Posted by Kish
    Twitter: misskish
    | January 27, 2010, 5:16 pm

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