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14° & CLOUDY ON SUNDAY 22 SEPTEMBER IN MELBOURNE
By Julia Gaw
October 18, 2018
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CIBI

A picture of perfect design, balance and Japanese cafe fare.
By Julia Gaw
October 18, 2018
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Cafe, designer's paradise and overall very cute space Cibi has expanded. Having spent the past decade on Keele Street in Collingwood, it outgrew the original site — filling it to the brim with Japanese homewares and cafe customers — but it didn't move far. Just a few hundred metres down the same street, actually.

Taking up residence in a huge, 800-square-metre warehouse, which was once a garment factory, Cibi is able to stretch out across a space four times the size of the original. Although the word "cibi" means "little one" in Japanese, little it isn't any longer.

Sticking with the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi (acceptance of beauty in imperfection), the warehouse now has exposed beams, concrete and brick finishes, with owners Meg and Zenta Tanaka purposefully leaving things untouched.

Previously focusing on Japanese homewares and a minimal Japanese-inspired cafe offering, Cibi has added a third notch to its belt at the new site, with the introduction of pantry staples. Using local seasonal produce, Meg is bottling up a variety of goods in the new spacious kitchen and delivering them straight into your hands — expect pickles, sauces condiments and locally made tofu.

The cafe has expanded its cafe menu, too, with food available from breakfast through to afternoon tea. You can try dishes for the store's recently published cookbook, Cibi: Simple Japanese-Inspired Meals to Share with Family and Friends, and its super-popular Japanese Breakfast — with grilled salmon, omelette, seasonal greens, rice and miso soup — will be now available every morning, instead of just weekends.

In terms of the homewares, the brands exclusively imported by Cibi (such as Hakusan porcelain and Sori Yanagi cutlery) has been built on, with the addition of larger items — such as furniture — and more brands. And Zenta will explore one-off collaborations with local artists and designs, expanding on the popularity of the Cibi drinking glass.

While you're in store, you can snag green babies for your home from The Plant Society or get a painting framed by United Measures, who have both taken up residency in the space. And for the future? Cooking lessons, Meg hopes, thanks to the larger kitchen, as well as other workshops and special events.

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