45 Keele Street, Collingwood 3066—View map


03 9077 3941 info@cibi.com.au




Monday to Friday 08.00am to 05.00pm  
Saturday 09.00am to 05.00pm 

Sunday  09.00am to 04.00pm



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Fancy some green tea and salmon for breakfast?

Claire Wiltshire 27 September 2008

Finding a good Japanese restaurant in Melbourne is not too difficult, and sushi shops cram the inner city. But curious breakfast-lovers have been sadly uncatered for when it comes to the wholesome traditional Japanese style-until now. Cibi serves home-style Japanese breakfast and a tasty variety of cha to rival the usual egg, toast and latte.

Light breakfast, brunch and lunch are served every day except Sunday. There are a few Western basics on the menu, like sourdough toast and jam, as well as a wholesome bircher muesli with dried fruit and roasted seeds. The new and solidly established local set, however, is not afraid to venture out of its breakfast comfort zone, with the traditional Japanese breakfast plates coming out thick and fast.

Saturday is the day for the traditional breakfasts, so it's worth planning your visit. Cibi offers two styles: one with grilled salmon; and the other with more vegetables, for those who don't do fish. Both dishes include soft brown rice, ohitashi (cold steamed spinach), sweet Japanese style omelette, and a yummy potato/egg salad.

The handwritten menu on the wall advises, the last ingredient is love. The highlight of Japanese brekkie is the side of miso. Real miso is certainly a step up from the instant packet varieties found in many takeaway shops. This soup is based on chef Meg's grandma's style, and is a hearty bowl of vegies and fried tofu. The perfect salty complement to wash down drier rice, it is served in a beautiful lacquer-ware bowl with matching spoon.

Cibi is a refurbished warehouse, situated just off the bargain-shopping busload end of Collingwood. Laidback Keele Street feels a world away from the crowds-the perfect spot to tie up the dog and chill out in the open air, or next to a huge street window. Co-owner Zenta is an architect and has infused his particular design-style into the space. Half of the open-plan building is a showroom featuring Japanese lacquer-ware, ceramics, tin toys and curios, forming symmetry with carefully selected pieces of Danish designer furniture. Strolling around the calming, naturally lit space is a must while waiting for your food, though you won't be waiting long.

In customary Japanese style, staff are attentive and courteous. Water glasses are frequently topped up, and coffees served quickly. They are also some of the best brews this side of the Yarra, and that's saying something. For something better suited to the traditional breakfast however, try one of the fine Japanese teas on offer. Gen mai cha (sencha with roasted brown rice) is a refreshing and slightly nutty blend and the houji cha, a lovely low-caffeine brown tea, is similar to oolong.

A lovely sign on the wall reveals the intent behind Cibi's name: meaning small child, it refers to childlike wonder and a sense of fun. Judging by the excitement I felt eating this brekkie, it must be catching.

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