This Japanese cafe has been Collingwood’s bridge to Tokyo since 2008. It’s run by husband and wife Zenta and Meg Tanaka (they also own nearby cafe and retail space Mina-no-ie, and in 2017 they opened a second Cibi in Tokyo). It offers delicate Japanese dishes and homewares in a restrained but stylish, light-filled, lofty former clothing warehouse.
There is a grocery section with fresh produce and pantry goods such as handmade Italian pasta, French mustard, local apple juice, locally made cheeses, tofu and takeaway meals.
The open kitchen is spacious, but it retains a homey feel. The countertops are timber, and the homewares shop is furnished with mostly vintage items. Display tables are constructed from aerated concrete slabs, and a long two-tiered shelf near the back doubles as seating for cooking classes and creative workshops. In the dining area, chairs and tables are mismatched. At lunchtime it’s full of diners quietly eating a slice of pound cake or working on their laptops.
The signature breakfast is grilled salmon, tamagoyaki (a layered and rolled omelette), greens, rice and miso soup. And alongside the evergreen chicken soboro bowl (a rice bowl with greens and minced chicken) and vegetable curry is the new “complete” lunch option, which changes monthly. It combines one fish, three vegetables and some grains. One iteration is seared salmon, tofu-and-mushroom-stuffed lotus root rounds, sweet-sesame pumpkin, broad bean salad, and rice and quinoa mixed with soy beans. The yuzu miso, rice blends and condiments are all house-made.