NOTE: This establishment is now closed. To save on site resources, we have deleted the images on this post. For details on other amazing food establishments, you can click here.
It’s hard to miss Crate at Metro Events Zone in Lipa City. Amidst the relatively small structures in MEZ is the industrial designed Crate that does look like a crate in the sense that it looks like a large shipping container. You can see it as soon as you enter MEZ and as I’ve found out the past couple of weeks that I’ve been trying it, it’s in your best interest to keep walking to Crate and try what they have to offer – a fusion of Japanese and Korean cuisines.
Admittedly, Japanese and Korean cuisines separately are not in my top 3 favorite cuisines. They’re probably in and out of my top 5 depending on my mood. But as Crate has proven, put the two together and you have a fusion that makes a lot of sense.
Personally, I find Japanese food too bland as I love strong seasoning and spices. On the other hand, Korean food can be overwhelming in the flavor department. You know where I’m going with this.
Together, they’re perfect.
About the Owners
Crate is the brainchild of the Thirsty Thursday Group Inc. The company is made up of a group of friends namely Carlo Antonio Arnaldo, Jose Angelo Go, Maria Greta Resurreccion, Mariethel Garing, Jona Krista Yalong, Christine Bernadette Reyes and Arianne Joy Garing. I’ve met and talked to most of the owners and I particularly like that they have different “day jobs”. The group is made of an architect, lawyer, a chef, a couple of experienced restaurateurs, and marketing experts.
With a team as imposing and professional as this, it’s understandable if you’re expecting great things from Crate. You won’t be disappointed.
My wife and I attended the opening last April 15, 2016 and the place was PACKED with people anticipating what the Japanese-Korean fusion is all about. Looking at the industrial setting, it’s easy to be impressed. The design (Architect Mariethel Garing of G CUBE Design + Build Inc) and build (Architect Mariethel Garing of G CUBE Design + Build Inc x Juan Angelo Go of Lito’s Builders & Construction Inc) team that they put together deserves a round of applause for Crate’s structure. It looks amazing and efficient at the same time.
But honestly during the opening, it wasn’t the best experience for me which I’m assuming is because of the overwhelming number of people. It was a long wait and I feel that the sheer number of people led to a domino effect – from the food to the kitchen. But even so, I recognized the potential. I remember thinking, this restaurant is going to be so good.
I gave Crate a couple of weeks before I tried it again. I figured that it’s more than enough time for them to settle down and showcase what they are really about. I’m here to tell you that I’m now hella impressed.
So if ever you tried it before during the opening or a few days after it, I’m recommending that you try it again. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really should.
Things have improved a lot since the opening as far as service is concerned. The tables are manned by staff members who seem to have springs on their shoes. They’re quick on their feet thanks in part to the guidance provided by Crate’s hands-on owners. Believe me when I tell you that they’re really hands-on. I mean, where else can you see a restaurant where a lawyer or an architect takes your order?
The kitchen staff has improved by leaps and bounds as well. Kudos to Chef Jona Krista Yalong for the well-run kitchen. We’re very impressed that the food was served within 15 minutes, which is more impressive if you’re going to consider the fact that they have complicated dishes.
About the Food
The team risked a lot in introducing Japanese-Korean fusion to Lipa City. But I guess if you have experienced restaurateurs like Juan Angelo Go and Carlo Antonio Arnaldo on board, it’s safe to be confident.
Here’s their menu so you can see what they’re offering:
I tried the Kimchi Rice with Pork Belly during the opening and it was worth the wait. It was the saving grace of the opening. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered it again the next time I visited. I quickly anointed it as my favorite.
Just as the name implies, it’s a simple fusion of the Korean flavors of the kimchi rice and the Japanese flavors of the pork belly in teriyaki sauce. As a tip, you can let them know your heat preference, either mild or spicy. I always go for extra spicy.
I also tried the Japanese Tuna Grinder because I love tuna. This dish has a lot of things going on in a single plate but somehow, they made it work. It has a tuna cutlet that has a hint (not overpowering) of wasabi and is topped by Japanese mayo and tomatoes. It’s also served with a couple of slices of white bread and (surprise!) a good serving of fried crispy kangkong. Sorry to the Kimchi Rice with Pork Belly, but this is now my favorite.
On the other hand, my wife is a fan of the Hambak Steak. It’s basically a thick slice of beef patty smothered in steak sauce and served with rice and a sunny side up egg.
I also had the chance to try the Tuna Sashimi. It’s pretty good. It’s fresh and doesn’t smell too fishy. It was so good that I ate 16 slices in one sitting.
They also have Soju Yakult which is a must-try. Soju is a Japanese rice wine and Yakult is well, the Yakult that we wish is served in one-liter bottles. We get our wish at Crate, although is now an adult version. The Soju Yakult is a must-try after a heavy meal and is best enjoyed with friends. One bottle will go a long way. I felt some buzz after 3 shots.
We’ve also tried the Homemade Ice Cream about 5 times already. We love the fact that it’s not too sweet. You get a scoop each of honey and green tea ice cream and the cornflakes provide some crunch and texture.
Random thoughts: Kanino kaya bahay ginagawa ang Homemade Ice Cream nila? Makapagpa-ampon.
Try it Today!
We’ve been to Crate about 5 times since it opened and we’ll be back for more. Obviously, we still have a lot of dishes to try. They’ll also be introducing new menu options soon so that’s another reason to go back. Invite your family and friends to try it out. Try to get a table at the 2nd floor if there’s one available. It’s good for people watching while you’re enjoying good Japanese-Korean dishes.
Congratulations to Thirsty Thursday Group Inc and THANK YOU for bringing Japanese-Korean fusion to Lipa City!
Address: Metro Events Zone Lipa City
Contact Number: 0917 308 7592
Hours of operation: 3PM to 12AM (Monday to Sunday)
This feature is based on the personal experience of the author and the Hello Lipa team at the time of their visit for the purpose of this feature. We don’t guarantee that you’ll have the same experience.