Half arty design store, half warehouse style café, it was always my curiosity about its Japanese style weekend breakfasts that had me thinking I needed to visit Cibi. After experiencing its great use of space, very good service and interesting take on breakfast I am glad to have gone but am not convinced I’ll be returning.
The main reason why is that as a combination of flavours and textures it doesn’t quite work for me. There are three options for the Japanese breakfasts, the traditional, the more vegetables and the ‘ultimate’. The traditional comes with grilled salmon, a free range egg omelette, a few vegetables, a smooth style potato salad, brown rice and a miso soup.
The ‘ultimate’ also includes homemade pickles (Tsukemono), fermented soya beans (Natto), sour plum (Umeboshi) and strips of dried seaweed (Nori). For my western palate it was a weird way to wake up to the world. Smoked salmon is a familiar breakfast item but grilled fish of course has a completely different texture. I like miso but had always associated it and rice with lunch or dinner, and cauliflower for breakfast kind of does my head in.
The additional items from the ultimate really added to the not in Kansas feeling. I like sour plum a lot but usually added to soda water or lime juice, as in itself it is very strongly flavoured and should only be consumed a small piece at a time. The fermented beans had a weird, kind of mucus like texture, but the flavours were pleasant enough.
Cibi does seem to have a bit of a following though and had a really nice vibe, both from the friendly and efficient waitresses through to the locals including families who obviously visit regularly. Nice background music, a bit of a hum without being overly loud, it had a great feeling of space. It’s actually one of the nicest and most interesting places to eat that I’ve been for a while.
I’d suggest giving it a go to see whether you like it. Admittedly I did go for the more adventurous side of the menu and I may have preferred some of the other dishes, but then that’s not why I went or what really differentiates it from its neighbours. I felt it also tended to the pricey side as well, with prices similar to or a little higher than most other cafes combined with slightly smaller serves.
Food – 7
Service – 8
Ambience – 8
Price – 6
45 Keele Street
Collingwood VIC 3066
Tel (03) 9077 3941