A week ago, my sister posted this absolutely stunning image of the cherry blossom trees, in full bloom at the International Pacific University in my hometown of Palmerston North, New Zealand.

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The annual Sakura Festival is one of the most anticipated events on the calendars of the Japanese migrant community of New Zealand. Being Down Under, the cherry blossoms come to bloom there in early September, but in Japan it takes place between March and May.

Sakura is Japanese for ‘cherry blossom’, and it is quite a coincidence that a week later, I find myself in a Japanese restaurant by the same name.

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Located in the very central Crowne Plaza Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, Sakura takes the Japanese culinary experience to another level with its dedicated Chashitsu room, an interactive sushi-making counter and a very fired-up lineup of authentic Teppanyaki barbecues, cooked and served right at the table with a great deal of pomp and pizzazz. 

Flavours Restaurant at Hilton Al Ain is the hotel’s all-day dining venue. The restaurant has recently been renovated, and features stunning Arabesque decor.

During our staycation at Hilton Al Ain, this was the very first restaurant we tried out. We got to the hotel around noon, dumped our luggage in our suite, and after a quick cup of tea, we headed to Flavours for their international buffet lunch.

This was my first time at Boulevard Kitchen, Manzil Downtown Dubai’s chic, Arabesque cafe-style diner. Every Friday, the restaurant does a very elaborate buffet-style brunch which starts at AED 195 per person.

The menu is very Mediterranean, yet apart from the delicious fare, the experience as a whole was uniquely memorable for a number of reasons.

El Chico, the authentic Mexican food chain from Southern United States, opened its third branch in the UAE on Friday 23rd Jan.

El Chico has a branch on JBR, Dubai. In Abu Dhabi, the chain already had a presence in Dalma Mall, and given the high demand for authentic Mexican cuisine, El Chico has now opened its second branch in the capital in the very stylish World Trade Center Mall. el chico wtc mall

Katherine Lorente is from the Philippines. Her bubbly persona masks her age, and makes her perfect for her daytime role as a receptionist for the Q-Gourmet head office based in Sharjah.

In Katherine I found yet another master chef! Katherine has an innate love for cooking, and has her very own culinary business back home in the Philippines.

pancit palabok philippines recipe

Mama Cuellar, a Mexican immigrant to the States, drew crowds at a country fair outside Dallas, Texas with her mouthwatering tamales. That was way back in 1926.

With the help of her twelve children and a whole ammunition of crowd-pleasing recipes, Mama Cuellar gave the world the El Chico chain of fine Mexican cuisine.

Her legacy continues with a large fan following the world over, and today I’m sharing her famous guacamole recipe with you.

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Cantina Laredo is a gourmet Mexican restaurant chain hailing from Chicago, Illinois. In the UAE, they have a branch in Khalidiyah Mall, Abu Dhabi.

Cantina Laredo has earned a reputation serving authentic, high-quality Mexican dishes. Their secret lies in using the freshest of ingredients which they believe makes all the difference.

Today, I am sharing their famed Chicken Fajita Salad recipe with you.Cantina Laredo recipe Chicken Fajita Salad