Hibiki specialises in two things: “Japanese brunch and beats”. Any cafe with that motto is somewhere we want to get to know better.
But hot damn this place is cool. Cool in that effortless, minimalist sort of way that you only get in Tokyo or Osaka. Melbourne’s cafe scene is all about swagger: crazy brunch experiments, cavernous industrial warehouses, all-day eating and bottomless booze with extra doughnut fireworks. In Japan it’s more about execution: a few simple dishes, cooked out of their skins, plus banging coffee and smooth tunes. That’s Hibiki in a nutshell right there.
You’ll find this place on Toorak Rd, down where Camberwell drops off the map. The only things not rendered in soothing white are the brushed concrete bar, the dark blue bench seating, and the greenery on every wall. You could drop this place into Ueno and no-one would bat an eye.
Owner Reiji Honour (great name) rules the roost here. He’s opened with a soft menu, that may change down the track. For the moment you can get epic takeaway sushi burritos (the legit kind, not the gimmicky stuff), plus a banging range of Japanese brunch.
Japanese smashed av’ is on the cards, this time topped with grilled yaki mushroom skewers, Danish feta and mint, then zapped with red shiso salt, schichimi spices and crunchy lotus root chips. Our pick is defs the okonomiyaki though: crispy Japanese pancakes, layered with bacon, seasonal veg, Bulldog sauce and kewpie mayo, freeze-dried seaweed, a poached egg and umami-powered katsuobushi flakes.
There’s bread from Brioche By Phillip if you’re after something more standard, and they’re rocking a Japanese milk toast you have to try. Totally different to your typical sourdough, but it really works with some pulled beef brisket and mushroom skewers.
Reiji and the crew are slinging Industry Beans coffee, and they take it VERY seriously. There are rotating single origins, Aeropress, filters, drips and the kitchen sink, plus hot choc from the guys at Mork and spiced chai from Mad As A Hatter.
It’s not often we say this, but if you want to get a taste of Hibiki, check out their website. Looks like some sort of Blade Runner breakfast mash-up, and exactly what you’d expect from a cafe pushing the envelope.
Thank your lucky stars, Camberwell. You just got one of the best openings of 2018.
Image credit: Griffin Simm