IMA Project Cafe is a small yet intimate space located on Elgin Street, only a block away from Lygon Street in Carlton. What makes this cafe very interesting to me is how they emphasize the nose-to-tail dining experience here. Meaning that they feature animals and vegetables that are not ‘pretty’ enough to make it to supermarket shelves in order to help the world reduce its food waste.
IMA Project Cafe
Not only the produce, but the interior of the cafe is also mostly recycled products. From what I read through broadsheet article, co-owner Asako Miura designed the interior & Miura’s Partner, co-owner James Spinks designed the menu.
Co-owner Asako Miura designed the interior, which revolves around a large pine service counter that stretches almost the full length of the room. Benches, tables and stools are made from plywood. The menu is by Miura’s partner, co-owner James Spinks, who has spent time at Quay, Sake, Supernormal and Long Chim, and a year cooking at a restaurant in Tokyo.Broadsheet
It was a Sunday afternoon when me & Meg decided to visit IMA Project Cafe. When we arrived, there were approximately almost 10 people lining up before us, but when I looked around, their tables weren’t actually full. Anyway, it wasn’t too long of a wait for us, I think we got our table after 20 minutes. There was a sign on their window with a QR code where their menu can be seen online, and they encourage us to check them while we were waiting for our table.
The service was very warm here, and the customers were so casual, it gave me such a homey vibe. As the waitress came to take our order, we were given the notice that most of their menu was already sold out. I guess to minimize the waste they only serve a limited set of menus every day, which was very understandable. Luckily the menu that was left was the ones that we originally wanted to order anyway.
I ordered the Japanese Breakfast Teishoku, while Meg opted for one of their IMA Don. Mine came in a four-set of bowls; a deep-fried panko crumb sardines with tartare sauce on top of rice with furikake sprinkles, a side of miso soup, pickles & salad. While Meg’s rice bowl came with a marinated deep-fried chicken, vegetables, salad, pickles & an onsen egg.
Although the price is on the high side for something that looked like it came out of your home kitchen, everything tasted beautiful regardless. It felt like I was eating a Japanese version of Fish & Chips, but instead of chips, they use rice, and it’s more wholesome with the miso soup, salad & pickles on the side. It’s really the thought that counts. I very much appreciate the fact that they created IMA Project Cafe to give emphasize on the so-called “ugly” products and turn them into a delicious bowl.
Overall, I stand with IMA project cafe and its mission. When I have extra cash to splurge on lunch, I would love to come back to try their other menus. On a heavy note, food waste is contributing to serious damage to our mother earth. We need more cafe projects like IMA to protect our finite environmental resources. What do you think?
I hope you enjoy this week’s blog post, let me know your thoughts in the comment section and if you like it, please share it! Thank you for your support as always, if you have any spot in Melbourne that you think I should try, mention me on their socials and I’ll check it out. See you on my next one, xoxo.
- IMA Project Cafe
- Business Hours :
- Tuesday – Friday : 07:30 AM – 03:00 PM (Kitchen closes at 2:15 PM)
- Saturday – Sunday : 08:00 AM – 03:00 PM (Kitchen closes at 2:15 PM)
- CLOSED EVERY MONDAY
- Coffee : Yes
- Food : Yes
- Alcohol : Yes
- Dessert : Pastries & Sweets
- Indoor Capacity : 28
- Outdoor Capacity : 18
- RSVP : Walk-In Only
- Waiting Time : 20+ minutes
- Toilet : Yes
- Wifi : No
- Vegan / Vegetarian : Yes
- GF Option : Yes