It’s a small tucked away cafe in the industrial end of Peel Street but it has been embraced by locals, especially those with young kids and prams. It’s a sweet, sun-dappled place which has transformed an impersonal warehouse into a warm and welcoming space, complete with whitewashed walls, blonde wood tables matched with naive rounded stools and touches of greenery perked up with some simple brown paper bags (a decorating trick I’m going to borrow for my home).
I met up with Gourmet Chick and her husband for brunch and we were able to squeeze ourselves onto a small table that was leaving – it’s pretty busy on a weekend. A smiling waiter greeted us promptly and dispensed paper menus while taking drink orders. A creamy latte, frothy cappuccino and ryokucha Japanese tea arrived, all served in huggable glazed ceramic cups and in the case of the tea, an adorable metal and wood tea pot for one with even its own circular wooden trivet.
The menu contains breakfast and lunch options all done with a healthful, Japanese twist. You’re not likely to find these dishes all over town, a la smashed avocado.
The kitchen at Mina-no-ie is about as open plan as you can get so you can be assured that the food you’ve ordered is freshly prepared and served with care. Their focus is on using local, seasonal, free range and organic ingredients where possible.
Gourmet Chick decided on the baked eggs with sweet miso, roasted eggplants and butternut pumpkin ($16.50). What appeared was kind of like a shallow pan of fondue – not a bad thing by any means and delicious stretched onto the slices of the grainy buttered sourdough. It was a nicely balanced dish – sweetness from the pumpkin, a slight bitterness from the eggplant, saltiness from the cheese and umami from the miso. I might even try this one at home as in winter I always have a surplus of pumpkin from my fruit and veg delivery and am sick of making pumpkin soup.
The other breakfast dish ordered was the mum’s scrambled eggs with sourdough. I’d consider it more of an omelette than a scramble – a small detail but if you’re expecting a barely cooked mass of eggs as opposed to a pan-fried half-circle then you’ll be disappointed. The eggs were declared ‘good but nothing special’.
As I’d had breakfast at the crack of dawn I was ready for lunch so headed for the Mina-no-ie Complete ($18) – braised pork belly or pan-fried salmon served with two salads – a cauliflower, broccoli and carrot mix and an Asian style slaw – plus grains of rice, quinoa, soy beans and a dash of sesame sseds. It’s a hearty serve of health on a plate, with lots of different textures and flavours to dance around. Highly recommended.
The other dish which I love at Mina-no-ie and which I’ve had on previous occasions is their wholesome soup with petit onigiri ($15). The ingredients of the soup change regularly but I had a cold-soothing chicken meatball soup, the kind my (non-existent) Japanese/Jewish mother would make. It’s a warm broth of ginger, spinach, coriander, mushrooms, black fungus and the sesame seed-crusted rice balls are so cute squatting on some crispy nori seaweed – just wrap up and pop in your mouth like a betel leaf. The miniature triangles of rice make a nice change from a side of bread.
To cap off our meal we tried the sweets – a matcha muffin with a matcha crumble and white chocolate ($4) plus a chocolate croissant which is not made in house ($5). Both of these patisserie items were on the stodgy side so I wouldn’t categorise them as a ‘must-have’.
Mina-no-ie has successfully carved out a niche in Collingwood for simple, tasty, healthy and well-priced Japanese-influenced food. Pull up a chair and make yourself at home.
Mina-no-ie, 33 Peel St, Collingwood +61 3 9417 7749