Café MAMÉ is a neighbourhood coffee shop in Melba run by Jiwoo Kim and partner Amy. The pair opened in less than stellar circumstances mid-COVID, but have since amassed a loyal following of locals, and even some who drive across Canberra for their coffee, brunch and incredible pastries.
The bulk of their business is done during the day but for the month of July they’re running a pop-up serving dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. The style of dining is described as ‘very casual, very Asian’.
“Each Friday and Saturday night has a different menu to keep people interested. There’s not much going on in this area of Belconnen so we wanted to do something different,” Jiwoo told Region.
The most exciting part about this nighttime pop-up is that it marks the start of a whole new business for Jiwoo and Amy.
A small takeaway shop two doors down from the cafe became available and they’ve purchased it. Jiwoo explains that they’re planning to open a classic Asian takeaway.
“A lot of local Asian takeaway shops are run by an older generation. Asian chefs of my age go to restaurants to learn how to cook fine dining, which is what I did too. But I think there’s something missing for the young generation to put out a really good quality takeaway shop.”
Although they’re planning to stick to traditional dishes, customers can expect to see Jiwoo’s skill and flair shine through. Jiwoo trained in Sydney and has an impressive resume of Canberra fine dining institutions: Water’s Edge, Pialligo Estate, Eightysix and Courgette, which is where he met Amy.
The pair were drawn to the idea of being their own bosses. They’d planned to open a restaurant initially, but decided to start small with Café MAMÉ and build up their team of staff and their reputation. But they’d always planned to open something else eventually.
The takeaway shop will be called Drunken Tiger, a name Jiwoo describes as “a bit cheeky” and he says that fans of Tiger Lane in the Canberra Centre will also enjoy the style of food they’ll be serving (although he says he had settled on his tiger themed name prior to the announcement of Tiger Lane). He says the takeaway menu will simply be ‘yummy Asian food’.
Jiwoo says locals have spotted him ducking in and out of the empty shop front as they work on the new fitout and plenty of people have asked him what he’s planning. He says people are really excited to have something new and are looking forward to the opening.
For now, everyone can get a sneak peek of what Jiwoo has been working on at a pop-up dinner. The dishes will change every week, but in their first nights the team dished up a compact but creative menu. Customers enjoyed dishes like Vietnamese pork meatballs with vermicelli noodles, vegetables and nuoc cham dressing, or authentic ma-po tofu with rice.
And it’s a great opportunity to perfect your chopstick technique, as the menu stipulates ‘no fork and knife’!
Café MAMÉ is located at Shop 2/4-6 Melba Ct, Melba. They are open from 7 am to 2:30 pm on weekdays, and from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm on weekends.
The pop-up will run on Friday and Saturday nights in July from 5 pm to 8 pm for walk-ins or takeaway.
Follow Café MAMÉ on Facebook or Instagram and follow their pop-up page on Instagram to see the menu for each week.