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: [email protected] or [email protected]

Live an Awesome Life,  


Anton Diaz
Mobile: +63917-LOVEOAP (5683627) 
Email: [email protected]
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P.S. Foodie Trivia: Daphne and Patrick’s Favorite Restaurant is Uno Restaurant in QC. 🙂