A couple of weeks ago, I was foolish enough to think that I had exhausted all of the cafes in my Melbourne suburb of Carlton. Imagine my joy then, when I heard word about IMA Project Cafe; a highly regarded Melbourne cafe, serving a Japanese take on brunch and lunch.
Obviously, a pilgrimage was needed. Me and my housemate and fellow food enthusiast set off on route for some sustanence. Of course, I was going to try the coffee. However, what I was really excited for were the iced matcha lattes. So far, only Little Rogue in Dwery Lane has made the matcha cut and I was excited to try out a new contender.
Iced Matcha’s ordered (they were delicious), we set to pulling apart the food menu. IMA cafe has so many delicious options to choose from, and all for a reasonable price. Standouts for me were the Japanese breakfast, served with hibachi grilled market fish, okazu, pickles, rice and miso soup. The IMA Don Nasu, a rice bowl with miso glazed caluliflower, onsen egg, pickles and okazus also sounded tempting, as did the Zosui, a japanese savoury rice porridge with grilled fish, mushroom and egg. They also have plenty of japenese style toasties, sweet pastries and side dishes such as a Japanese potato salad and marinated soft boiled eggs that you can add to your meal for just a couple of dollars extra.
The food was as expected, delicous. I had the soba salad and an matcha amaretti to finish it off. While Koi tried the IMA Don with fish.
Food aside, there were plenty of drink options: coffee (roasted locally by Proud Mary ), teas, juices and some sake and Japenese plum wine if you fancied a cheeky one. Prices were extremely reasonable, staff were lovely and outdoor seating was plentiful (however you may struggle for an inside table on a rainy Melbourne Day.
Open weekdays 7.30-3 (closed Tuesdays) and 8-3 weekends.
169 Elgin Street, Carlton, VIC, 3053