I love Japan. Everything about the place just makes me feel good. It has a well-earned global reputation for design, attention to detail, food, ceremony, friendliness and hard work. Basically, the anti-me. And seeing as they are basically the only country never to be occupied by Imperial forces, they have held onto their traditions as tightly as a Vengaboys band member holds onto his authentic outback cowboy hat.
Speaking of authentic outback cowboy hats, Cibi has very little to do with authentic outback cowboy hats.
Cibi is a Japanese cafe in the backstreets of Collingwood and is actually run by Japanese people. And I love it. It just exudes an effortless charm and is the kind of place that would appeal to Japanophile, designophile and paedophile alike. Maybe not paedophiles, who knows what kind of cafe those sick freaks are into. Actually, I rarely see kids in Cibi. And you know the old saying “If there aint no kids the pedo’s lose their lids!”, I think it was Wordsworth. What I am trying to say is that Cibi is really a charming and very adult cafe, and probably one of the least likely cafes to play host to paedophiles.
I don’t know about you guys, but when I am surrounded by Japanese things and Japanese people I tend to subconsciously adjust my personality accordingly. I feel I enter an almost-hippy state, whereby I become infinitely more polite and tend to appreciate the smaller things in life. I also think I do these little quarter bows of the head as I say thanks because I feel the Japanese appreciate a really genuine thank you more than anyone. It happens to me in Japan and it happens here – simply on a smaller scale. I think this is one of the truly great things about the Japanese culture, it’s like a refresher course on how the West has got things wrong in many ways. But I’m not at Cibi as I type this, so I will cease this hippy bullshit and go back to being a boorish suit who orders the secretary to do my bidding like the corporate big dog that I am.
You should come to Cibi on both the weekend and weekday to get the most out of the place. On the one hand, weekdays are quieter and just an awesome place to wind down before you go back to barking at your secretary. And when there aren’t many people there you can just spread out at a table and read their copies of Monocle magazine while you watch the staff just be pleasant. Really pleasant. So pleasant that if the staff were the weather then you would walk out your front door and say “Gee this weather is really quite pleasant”, before picking up the paper and walking back inside and sleeping all day.
On the other hand, weekends are when you get to enjoy the entire menu – including some of their more Japanese breakfast plates. These are about as authentic as it gets. Typical Japanese breakfast is basically rice with an assortment of side dishes, usually – but not limited to – fish, rolled omelette, pickles, nori, fermented soy beans and in Cibi’s case, a pickled plum. Now tell me that isn’t the healthiest breakfast you have ever seen. No wonder Japanese people aren’t fat and old and white.
Whilst I really do enjoy this kind of breakfast and can appreciate the beauty in it, sometimes I just want something really heavy and unhealthily egg-reliant for breakfast. Nonetheless, it is one of the coolest breakfasts around. My dining partner, Eric the Discerning Llama with 90′s Hair, also thought the dish was particularly well-constructed.
Speaking of well-constructed, the building that houses Cibi seems to be fairly sturdy and structurally quite sound. The builders should be particularly proud of their efforts.
If you want a more Western-style breakfast they do a simple but incredible avocado on toast, more specifically “Avocado with lemon and Lucilla biodynamic extra virgin olive oil”. I really wasn’t prepared for how good this was.
WRONG, Eric. You dickhead.
Whenever I have heard people say what a difference ‘quality ingredients’ make to a dish, I usually dismiss them as food losers with too much money and I just throw an egg at them. But my god, for the first time in my life I could actually see what they were talking about. All the components of the meal were amazing but for some reason I think the best part was the olive oil and the seasoning. I don’t know what biodynamic means (despite our family history in the edible oils business) but I assume it involves farmers massaging the little olives and reading them stories. Probably some sort of Popeye spin-off starring Olive Oil as the main character. But I have to say that the good people at Lucilla Olive Products have really rocked my world and for that, I owe you my life.
Eric has tried – and enjoyed – the Soba Salad here before, but only because:
In the south-east corner of the cafe they also sell a number of Japanese-crafted kitchen items from well-known (apparently) artists. If you are the type of person that buys crafty sorts of things this place would be heaven for you, and while I can appreciate the beauty in these objects, I spend my money and on ringtones that I could probably download for free.
Cibi, you are wonderful.