You’d be forgiven for thinking this Yanaka café feels like it’s been transplanted from the backstreets of Melbourne, Australia – because it kind of is. Cibi Melbourne is a beloved Japanese café and concept store in the hip Collingwood neighborhood, opened in 2008 by Japanese husband and wife duo Zenta and Meg Tanaka. In 2018, they opened Cibi Tokyo.
Set in a lofty warehouse-like space, the decor is industrial but stylish, featuring an eclectic collection of mismatched chairs and tables, wooden shelves lined with ceramics, and hanging shibori-dyed fabric. It has a modern-vintage vibe that fits perfectly into Yanaka’s quaint atmosphere.
The menu features Cibi’s trademark healthy, seasonal Japanese-Australian fusion dishes. Breakfast could be scrambled eggs with tomatoes and shallots served on house-made sourdough toast with fresh baby-leaf salad dressed in soy and olive oil, or a bowl of muesli with yoghurt, rhubarb and berries. For lunch, there’s a selection of sandwiches and vibrant plates of rice, salad and seasonal vegetables with fish or chicken. The counter is lined with a tempting selection of baked goods like muffins, banana bread and fruit tarts – all made on the premises, infusing the space with a homely aroma. The service is reliably bright, energetic and welcoming.
Drinks wise, there are wine and beer from Australia and New Zealand, sodas mixed with house-made syrups, and excellent coffee using beans from Kanagawa’s 27 Coffee Roasters. Be sure to leave some time to browse the thoughtful selection of artisanal wares at the entrance – elegant Shotoku glassware, organic tea, tenugui, kitchenware, tote bags and the popular CIBI cookbook.