Upper East Power Lunch


One of the coolest restaurants in Salcedo Village is a restaurant training lab of AHA Philippines, inspired by Upper East New York Restaurants. In NYC, you would see rich ladies having power lunches on a weekday. They are marketing the restaurant with that Big Apple “snootiness” in mind:

“A word to the wise: UPPER EAST is not for those sans chutzpah and those unwilling to pay for the price for a taste of New York style.” (Source: Welcome to Upper East)

(Update 12/4/09 – A lot of people are offended by the marketing copy and I do hope they change it)

The ambiance is heimish chic, the food is not something to rave about, but the people there are down-to-earth friendly. It was a perfect restaurant setting for meeting one of the most influential couples in the broadcast industry today.

I’m a fan of Culinary School Restaurants like 101 by ADF + Enderun and Aubergine by ISCAHM. I want to help in the education of the kids and, probably in the next few years, I would like to study in a culinary school as well.

Upper East is the restaurant of the American Hospitality Academy Philippines (a.k.a. AHA). I first heard about AHA from Chef Giney Villar of Adarna Food and Culture. They recently opened this restaurant lab for their students so that they would have hands-on training in restaurant service.

Upper East served as the setting for our lunch meeting with Daphne Osena-Paez (known as The Dafinator in Flickr) and husband, Patrick Paez, my roommate in Singapore during the Nuffnang Awards. The first thing that came to my mind when we entered Upper East was that it had an ambiance similar to the Heima Store in Cubao X. Later, on we found out that it was Rossy (of Heima) herself who designed the place.

I prefer sitting in the couch area with its collage of mirrors, wall frames, and wallpaper art in the background.

I love the color palette of the entire restaurant. Rossy is a master when it comes to bringing different bold colors together. They don’t seem to match at first, but she makes them work to create a refreshing ambiance. The store even smelled like the Olive Heima Scent Room Spray (which reminded my wife to buy some for the condo).

For a peek at the second floor, Daphne took a photo of the Upstairs section. It was actually cool to see the point of view of Daphne in terms of what is interesting for her to blog about in her Daphne’s Diary post, “Our Awesome Planet”.

The restaurant service manager took the time to explain to us the concept of the entire restaurant and what to order in the menu. She stressed that the restaurant is only open when there are classes, which usually start in April, July and November. That’s why for this Christmas season, they are only open until classes end on December 12, but they are available for private functions afterwards.

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Seafood, Sausage and Blackbean Soup (P216 no service charge). “Seafood, Hungarian Sausage and Black Beans simmered in an enticing blend of flavors and spices. Our own interpretation of an American Southern Original.”

This soup reminded me of goulash, with a lot of things going on under the thick brown sauce. I liked the big chunks of seafood and sausage, but I was expecting it to be more spicy, though.

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Caesar Salad (P280 no service charge). “A bountiful portion of the in-house version of an old-time favorite salad – fresh lettuce with croutons, parmesan cheese, and home-made honey-smoked bacon.”

The Caesar Salad was highly recommended but we found it ordinary except for the bacon, which Daphne precisely described as “crispy slice of ham“.

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Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip (P176 no service charge). “Crisp, golden brown fried chicken wings dredged in seasoned flour and coated in chili powder mix. Served with blue cheese dip.”

Daphne ordered this, but I think she didn’t finish it. Either the serving was too big or it was just OK.

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Smoked Grilled Pork Chop (P416 no service charge). “Smoked and brined to pink perfection color, a generous slice of grilled pork chop, served with mashed potatoes.”

It came in a pink color all right, but they forgot to mention that it also came with burnt edges. It was OK but I think it lacked that malinamnam taste.

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Blackened Fish with Pasta Aglio Olio (P440 no service charge). “Seasoned Fish-Fillet, seared to perfection. Served with pasta in garlic and olive oil.”

The fish was very good – soft, juicy, and tasty. Well done! The pasta was a bit overcooked; we like ours to be a bit al dente.

Tres Leches 

We got complimentary dessert (thanks to Daphne 🙂 ). Sadly, though, the most-raved about Tres Leches cake tasted like old bread.

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Tiramisu (P280 no service charge).

We had better tiramisu in other Italian restaurants. This one was more dry than usual.

Overall, Upper East is a good getaway during lunchtime with your officemates. This is something that my old friends from P&G GBS would love, especially for anniversaries, despedidas, or other milestone celebrations.

I’m sure they would get the desserts right the next time. Thanks to the Upper East people for the very warm service! 🙂

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Upper East Restaurant
Ground Floor, NDC Building, 116 Tordesillas St., Salcedo Village, Makati City
(It is a couple of buildings away from Malcolm’s Place)

OPERATING HOURS (November – December 2009):
Tuesday to Saturday – 11.30am to 2pm – LUNCH
Friday and Saturday – 6.30 to 9.30pm – DINNER
December 12 onwards: Open for Private Functions Only

For Reservations, please contact:
Telephone: +632 994-4437, 892-0744, (or AHAPhil – 892-7372, 892-7702)
Mobile: +63922 850 8653
Email: uppereast@ahaphil.com or uppereastbyahaphil@yahoo.com

Live an Awesome Life,  


Anton Diaz
Founder, OurAwesomePlanet.com
Mobile: +63917-LOVEOAP (5683627) 
Email: anton@diaz.ph
Add me in Twitterantondiaz
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P.S. Foodie Trivia: Daphne and Patrick’s Favorite Restaurant is Uno Restaurant in QC. 🙂

20 thoughts on “Upper East Power Lunch

  1. having worked as a server in nyc’s upper east side when i was a struggling student, the area reminds me of pompous, geriatric people… definitely not the ideal clientele for a waitress. nowadays, for a cooler and much chicer power lunch in nyc, i would suggest hell’s kitchen or the village.
    manhattan’s ues is no longer what it used to be.

  2. Thanks Teresa for the input. I would like to say "I Thought so", but
    let's leave your comment and let people be the judge 🙂

  3. it doesn’t feel like the upper east side, the blue vest looks a bit tacky, maybe I’m bias because I hate blue color.
    The food doesn’t look appetizing at all. the dessert looking at the picture I could tell that it’s dry. But then again I think we have to put in consideration that these are made by students that’s why they are studying to further improve their craft.

  4. I studied at the AHA for a brief period of time, and unfortunately I (along with several others) was very disappointed with their curriculum that I decided not to enroll for my final semester.
    We’ve concluded, however, that the terrible teaching we got was because we weren’t official AHA students. We were Entrepreneurship students studying culinary arts as a minor. Not an excuse for poor teaching, though.

  5. “A word to the wise: UPPER EAST is not for those sans chutzpah and those unwilling to pay for the price for a taste of New York style. (Source: Welcome to Upper East)”
    What a brilliant way to encourage people to come and appreciate the FOOD. May nalalaman pang chutzpah, hahaha!
    Sorry, I guess I’m among the unwilling. And those who steer clear of places who put out snooty (albeit trying-to-be-witty) warnings that should be tadtad with “(sic)” anyway.
    I’m getting nasty so I should stop. Baka mahulugan pa ako ng wooden chandelier.

  6. Taken from the website: “Just don’t expect to dine whenever you want to.
    After all, UPPER EAST is not always open for business. We close our doors when we want to, and we certainly won’t wait around for guests who, frankly, need to get a move on. No lunch is served after 1 p.m. and no dinner after 9 p.m.
    UPPER EAST is not for scrooges and stiffs. We tolerate sharing, although it’s not exactly de rigeur, is it? As for splitting? The fine is set at P250, not including our wait staff looking down their noses at you.”
    OMG! ARE THEY FOR REAL? WAIT TILL THIS GETS ON FACEBOOK AND LET’S SEE WHO’S GOING TO SPEND THE ENTIRE DAY WAITING FOR GUESTS TO ARRIVE. How pretentious! So these guys think Pinoys dine this way? GAWD! The place doesn’t even come close to anything NYC!

  7. ANTON! For a place who positions themselves as such, I can’t believe you’d even blog this way about them even if the food generally sucks. Anton, some people have put more importance and credibility on the comments more than your actual article. Stop being a sell out!

  8. for a restaurant to be as snotty as its claim, its food better be Michelin-worthy at the very least. and judging from your pictures Anton, they’re so not worth the amount you’ve paid for them (if you did pay for them, which i seriously doubt, as this looks more like the establishment asked you to feature them in this blog). none of you have actually commented on how splendid the food was, and yet you go on saying that “Upper East is a good getaway during lunchtime with your officemates. This is something that my old friends from P&G GBS would love, especially for anniversaries, despedidas, or other milestone celebrations.” why would i wanna spend a milestone celebration in a place with mediocre Tiramisu, or OK but lacking that malinamnam taste? and i haven’t even begun on the interiors. or do i really need to?
    yeah. seems like a paid entry if you asked me. you contradict yourself too much on this one, and seem to really pick out the nicest ways of saying “it’s bad,” or “not good enough.”

  9. pretentious and bad food. sounds like a case for gordon ramsay’s kitchen nightmares. i miss that show…

  10. im sorry anton.. i think this is a joke of a restaurant.. gads, how tacky – upper east side?? i don’t know whether or not the people who put this restaurant together know what they’re talking about, im sorry.. and the food looks – well i don’t know – maybe its okay. but it looks like , well, you know.. food. haha! but, really – trying to tell your customers maybe yo can’t afford our prices and if you can’t so move on? im moving on already even before i consider tiring my feet going toward this place haha, are these guys FER REAL???? and saying that the wooden chandeliers are maybe too chic for the patrons? give me a real good funny break hahahaha! sino ba kayo? haha… are they trying to attract people by trying to be controversial? or maybe they’re just trying to be funny and getting used to being a laughingstock amongst people who go out and eat in this metropolis, hahahaha!

  11. No matter how nice the staff is, or vaguely “edible” the food is, the way they described their place is awkwardly hilarious-so much so that it could actually ruin its reputation.
    As much as they want to terrorize their potential customers with their dumb, snobby threats…it’s not really working. Ang cheap.
    I’m sure they have the purest of intentions. Just fire the copywriter. But then again, if they actually allowed something so appalling to be published online, what does that say about the team behind it?

  12. i lived on the upper east side for 3 years and this is nothing like the upper east side.
    this restaurant is so unclassy and pretentious. and “big apple snootiness”???? oh please. NYC is now very open & diverse and not one NYC restaurant would promote themselves like this! what a stupid write-up.

  13. upper east side my ass! your wannabe-high class-exclusivity just reinforces what you were so hard trying to avoid but failed miserably – utterly cheap!
    oh, and here’s a newsflash for you. as far as ambience and good taste go, you have neither!
    what posers! what a waste of time and blog space.
    such arrogance with nothing to show for… pity.

  14. upper east snootiness yet they serve buffalo wings and caesar salad?!?!??!?
    anton, you know this post was going to be eaten alive by your educated readers. and please, what kind of ambience is that with the table right beside the stairs?

  15. Hi Olive,
    Just got back from an out-of-town trip. I was hoping that the comments
    would be constructive and the kids cooking in the restaurant would try
    to improve the food overall.
    Yeah, the description for the entire restaurant was done in bad taste,
    and I was hoping that they would change/ improve it.
    Oh well. I'll close the comments for now because I think we all get
    the general sentiments already.

  16. Hi Rish,
    Thanks for the comment and I appreciate it.
    I actually ignored the “sales letter” because I thought it was funny but most people took it seriously. It is a training restaurant lab. Well, we already know that people already judged the restaurant based on the “sales letter”.
    Sayang nga, I like it pa naman. I’m not connected with them or I don’t even know them. I guess I should be less generous with my comments, next time.

Comments are closed.