CIBI is my new favourite cafe – hidden out of sight on Keele Street in Melbourne’s Collingwood, this treasure is unassuming from the front, but step inside and you find a spacious, light-filled room with high ceilings, and a relaxed, cheery atmosphere. CIBI serves modern Japanese cuisine with a Western influence – think tofu burgers and mild curries, avo on toast and omelettes. On weekends they do more traditional Japanese breakfasts, and I’m very keen to go back and try the vegetarian option.
CIBI is not just about the food though – it’s also a shop selling beautiful Japanese homewares, fabrics, toys and ornaments. I spent a good while gawking over these gorgeous objects. If only I could fill my house with them! Instead I had to satisfy myself with a weekday special: soba salad with avocado, cherry tomatoes, crispy fried bean curd and topped with green olive tapenade. This dish is normally dressed with dashi, but can easily be made vegan upon request.
It can get pretty busy at lunch-time – it’s obviously a favourite for nearby office workers, but there’s still plenty of seating. Sit by the window on a sunny day and you could easily lose an afternoon. I, however, had things to do, and took some pictures along the way.