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If you haven’t check out the inaugural The Star People’s Food Awards yet, you should. Head to mob.com.my to nominate and vote for the different categories of food every month for a total of 12 months, from June 2014 to May 2015.

I’m honored to be chosen as one of the seven judges for this awards, and last week, five of us met up at Menara Star for a small get-together and had a little chat. The following article is the result from the meet up.

The article is shamelessly reproduced from The Star Online titled “More than just good taste” on the Saturday, 12 July 2014 and written by Kathleen Michael.

Judges for the Stars People's Food Award
Ready to eat and decide: (from left) Wong, Kar-Yeong, Adly, Wan and Yong
are in the line-up of judges for The Star People ’s Food Awards

Since June, The Star in collaboration with Metro Online Broadcast (MOB), a citizen journalism portal, has been calling out to street food lovers to nominate and vote for their favourite street food eatery.

The initiative is to recognise the best Malaysian street food in the Klang Valley, aptly named The Star People’s Food Awards.

Each month, a new street food category is introduced and readers nominate and vote for their favourite category-based street food.

The categories include nasi lemak, chicken rice, roti canai and nasi kandar.

The award was set up to give recognition to restaurant or vendors who continue to excite their clientele’s taste buds.

It also hopes to promote and encourage culinary excellence in street food culture while preserving the country’s food heritage.

The people powered award is not just based on public opinion, as part of the decision is made by an esteemed panel of judges.

There are seven judges who know where to head to for the best of the best, but are able to debate on all things street food.

The judges comprise of blogger at pureglutton.com Chris Wan, food adventurer and blogger at KYspeaks.com Kar-Yeong, PR consultant, writer and blogger at jommakan.blogspot.com Alice Yong, FriedChillies founder Adly Rizal, HungryGoWhere Malaysia managing editor Joyceling Tully, Star2 Features senior editor Julie Wong and StarMetro deputy editor Sam Cheong.

Five of the seven judges sat down with StarMetro to share their opinion about the awards and the state of street food in Malaysia.

Kar-Yeong likes the idea of championing street food because he was of the opinion that the street food culture was slowly dying in the country.

“As long as people are aware of street food and where to have them, it keeps the street food culture alive and I’m glad to be a part of it,” he said.

Out of the 12 categories, the group agreed that they were looking forward to thepopiah and nasi lemak categories.

These judges love their street food so much that when asked, “What’s your favourite street food?”, StarMetro was given the grunt of despair by judges.

“We can’t just pick one. We need the option to select at least three,” Kar-Yeong said.

The judges agreed that roti canai and nasi lemak would stand at the top of the list.

As food critics, there are certain things they will look out for when judging the eateries and their food.

Wan said taste and price mattered when it came to choosing street food.

Wong said her pet peeve was the excessive use of Monosodium glutamate (MSG) by street food vendors while Adly said great street food would depend on the consistency and passion of the cook.

“Good food in Malaysia is easily accessible at a good price. Those who make good street food are the ones who do not put lousy ingredients and are passionate about their food,” he said.

He is against stalls or restaurant that lie to consumers about the food served.

“There are so many who claim they serve Penang char kuey teow (mind you, this dish is number three in his top three list) and then when you try it, it is nothing compared to the real thing,” he said.

These days, it is also common to see foreigners as cooks, dishing up street food.

“The taste changes as they wouldn’t know how it is meant to be,” he added.

For Kar-Yeong, time spent waiting for his food plays a role in determining how he would rate his meals.

“I can tolerate waiting for about 45 minutes, and will probably return to the shop once more,” he said.

Wan and Yong agree that Malaysian culinary students did not take pride in the street food culture.

“They need motivation like the recent win by a Malaysian in Masterchef UK to tell them that Malaysian food is on par with Western cuisine.”

“Otherwise, they take street food for granted,” they said.

They also stressed that there should be classes to encourage Malaysian culinary students on local dishes and not just Western meals.

The judges agreed that besides highlighting locations with great street food, the awards would also help Malaysians find restaurants or vendors who were unknown to the masses.

“I didn’t know about Restaurant Prosperity Bowl and when it was nominated, I tried it and enjoyed their chicken rice,” Yong said.

The judges also agreed that the quality of street food was changing and the awards would hopefully help restore it to its former glory, instead of allowing it to deteriorate.

The public can take part in nominating and voting for the best street food category each month by signing up on mob.com.my

Public nomination for the current best roti canai category is now over and voting will begin on July 15 to midnight of the last day of the month.

The official announcement of the award winner and prize winners will be announced on the first week of the following month.

For details, on the Star’s People Food Awards, visit www.mob.com.my

Selamat berpuasa to my Muslim friends!

In a short few weeks it will be Hari Raya, and many of us, Muslim or otherwise, will be taking the opportunity of the holidays to travel back home to visit our love ones. To ensure a good and safe journey home, it is imperative that we get our vehicles be in a fit condition.

safe balik kampung promotion

For that, Carama by Castrol has something on offer for everyone with their Safe Balik Kampung Promotion - for only RM 128.00, you get an oil change, filter, safety check, and brake inspection worth RM 200.00.

Carama by Castrol is the first online service for trusted car care in Malaysia. With a huge network of certified and listed car workshops (200+) in Klang Valley. This help removes the doubt of choosing the right workshop as the certified shops had to undergo a rigorous accreditation process that assure customers of quality of workmanship, skills, and equipment.

Carama workshop reviews

The Carama site also provides one of the most invaluable features we’ve been waiting for – workshop reviews from customers. In addition to the certification process, this really helps us to choose the workshop we can trust without having to resort to just asking around for recommendations.

search for workshop on Carama
search for workshop on Carama

Using the service of Carama is simple. First, head to carama.com, choose your car make from the drop down menu and search for the workshop by location. A listing of workshop matching the search criteria will appear, alongside a pretty handy map.

Clicking on the workshop of your choice will bring you to the page that shows a photo of the workshop and other important details such as opening hours, full address, phone number, and more.

booking a workshop on Carama
booking a workshop on Carama

Booking an appointment is as easy as filling up the form by keying in your vehicle’s information and choosing the timeslot convenient for you, and you’re done!

Bring the voucher to the workshop to get your car serviced, it’s that simple.

One of the service centres certified by Carama
One of the service centres certified by Carama

The best thing about the service is that in addition to oil change and filter change, there’s also a complimentary 15-point Safety and Health inspection for your vehicle that includes the following:

  • Top up Battery Water
  • Top up Radiator Water
  • Top up Brake Fluid
  • Top up Power Steering Fluid
  • Top up Windscreen Washer Tank
  • Check & Clean Air Filter
  • Check Spark Plugs
  • Check Windscreen Wiper
  • Check Drive Belts
  • Check Cooling Hoses and Connections
  • Check And Adjust Tyres Pressure
  • Check Headlamp, Tail Light, Brakes and Signal Lights Conditions
  • Check Radiator Leakage
  • Check Tyres Condition
  • Check Battery Terminal and Cable

In total, the packge is worth RM 200.00

Castrol engine oil is used
Castrol engine oil is used

Since my car is currently at the paint shop, a friend of mine gave Carama a try and reported very positive experience (not unlike the old Castrol Auto Serivce I tried in 2011).

The workshop has a air conditioned waiting room with free drinking water and a TV for you to chill while the car is being serviced. The mechanic was very professional and took good care of the car while servicing it. It was overall a very fast and simple process that took less than an hour to complete.

So for this Balik Kampung season, head to Carama by Castrol and get your vehicle ready for the long ride home! Remember to use the RAYA128 code.

Back in January 2013, I wrote about KEN Rimba township at Seksyen 16, Shah Alam. At the time we visited the LEGIAN Residences and talked about the then upcoming JIMBARAN Residences. I was so impressed with the development that I ended up the first person to buy a unit of JIMBARAN Residences not long after.

Now, KEN launches KEN Rimba Condominium 1 the first high-rise residential development within the same multiple awards winning KEN RIMBA Township.

Ken Rimba condominium, artist's impression
Ken Rimba condominium, artist’s impression

For those who’re not familiar with KEN Rimba. The township is situated at Seksyen 16, Shah Alam, just a mere 1 kilometer away from the Padang Jawa/iCity intersection on Federal Highway.

The township also has a covered walkway to the Padang Jawa KTM station situated some 700 meters away, or about 10 minutes on foot.

As a bonus for those who love bak kut teh, a 5 minutes drive will get you to Weng Heong and Teluk Pulai bak kut teh. This might have influenced my decision to move to the township. :)

Ken Rimba Condominium and Pool Villa
Ken Rimba Condominium 1 and Pool Villa

Together with 328 units of LEGIAN Residences and 168 units of JIMBARAN Residences, KEN Rimba Condominium 1 comprises 637 units of condominium at 1119 sq. ft. and 1183 sq. ft. as well as 16 units of penthouses (4 for block A & C, 8 for block B) and 26 units of pool villas.

The condominium is priced from RM 399,000, or from RM 357 per square foot, making it a pretty attractive prospect for first time homebuyers.

As you can see from the scaled model in the photo above, the condominium is located next to the JIMBARAN Residences, and right behind a the KEN Rimba Commercial Centre. The 109 units of commercial centre will make serve as vibrant part of the whole community, offering convenience to residents in the township.

living room and kitchen, Ken Rimba Condominium
living room and kitchen, Ken Rimba Condominium 1

We visited the show unit of the condominium located at KEN Rimba recently.

The design of the unit is pragmatic and make good use of space. The living room and dining area greets homeowners as you step into the unit, with a balcony opposing the entrance door that promotes air circulation and maximizes inflow of daylight. To the side is a pretty decent size kitchen that connects to the washing/drying area.

kid's room and middle room
kid’s room and middle room

The first room (closest to living hall) is the smaller of the three rooms that is suitable for kids. Sam C.S. Tan, KEN Holdings’ group managing director, explained that they took into consideration that the width of the room must be wide enough to accommodate the length of a standard size bed. I also particularly like the huge windows for the room.

Second room is slightly larger and can easily accommodate a queen size bed and other furnishing. These two rooms share a bathroom located opposite the rooms’ doors.

I actually like this arrangement as guests don’t have to go into your room just to use the bathroom, and not having it in between the two rooms also make for much easier furniture arrangement since the rooms are now in simple rectangular layout.

master bedroom with attached toilet
master bedroom with attached toilet

Next up is the master bedroom, this is the biggest room in the unit and come with an attached bathroom as well. Like the previous two rooms, there’s also the huge windows by the side that takes advantage of the daylight.

scaled model showing Ken Rimba condominium floor plan
scaled model showing Ken Rimba Condominium 1 floor plan

The picture of the scale model above gives you an idea of how the floor plan is like for KEN Rimba Condominium 1. Each floor comprises of 8 units, with either the pool view or the i-City view. Each block is served by 3 elevators.

There are three blocks altogether and they are connected to the same covered carpark with the facilities floor on top.

pool villa model, ground level opens to the condo facility floor
pool villa model, ground level opens to the condo facilities floor

For those who want something more special, there’s also a limited units of pool villas.

I really love the concept of the pool villa. It is basically built almost like a 2.5 storey terrace house. You park your cars at the covered car park right in front of your own unit’s lower floor, walk up the stairs and get to the living area, kitchen, and dining hall that has direct access to the facilities floor.

The three spacious bedrooms are located on the top floor of the villa and has balcony overlooking the facilities floor as well. Get one right next to the pool and you are basically living the vacation life everyday. Very cool concept, the pool villa has a built up area of approximately 2,600 sq. ft.

The pool villas are priced from RM 800,000, or RM 306 psf.

Ken Rimba condominium facility floor
Ken Rimba condominium facilities floor – scaled model

On the facilities floor of KEN Rimba Condominium 1, there’s a full Olympic length swimming pool (50 meter), a kid’s pool, badminton hall covered with greenery, gymnasium, reading area, children’s playground, community park, multipurpose hall, and cabanas too.

I need a friend who stays at the condominium so that I can visit the facilities floor!

KY & Audrey at Ken Rimba condominium show unit
KY & Audrey at Ken Rimba Condominium 1 show unit

KEN Rimba Condominium 1 obtained BCA Green Mark GoldPLUS (Provisional) Award. If you’re looking for a condominium or perhaps your first home, this is surely one worth checking out.

Website:http://www.kenholdings.com.my
Facebookhttps://facebook.com/KEN.Greenbook
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/SamCS10
Email: contact@kenholdings.com.my
Sales enquiries1300-22-9933
Sales gallery: Jalan Sungai Rasau, Seksyen 16, 40200 Shah Alam, Selangor
GPS:  3.057961,101.484768

Back in the days when I was studying, it was usually seen to be cool to be in science stream while in high school, and some sort of engineering or computer science classes in university. We often made the mistake by thinking that those who chose to go into accounting or financial studies did so because they can’t get into the “cooler” subjects.

I couldn’t be more wrong, and subsequently, thinking about future finances and especially investment were exactly within my radar even years after I started work.

InvestSmart launched by YB Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Youth & Sports
InvestSmart launched by YB Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Youth & Sports

Thankfully, Securities Commission Malaysia is now taking initiatives to encourage the youth and young adults to take a more serious look into this aspect of our lives.

Last week, I attended an investor education initiative by Securities Commission Malaysia at Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus and got to learn quite a bit about this particular topic that I should have learned years ago.

The event also launched InvestSmart with the aim to help Malaysians to become more informed and be self-reliant investors who are able to make sound investment decisions in our capital market.

speeches by Mr. Pradeep Nair, Datuk Ranjit Ajit Singh, and YB Khairy Jamaluddin
Speeches by Mr. Pradeep Nair, Datuk Ranjit Ajit Singh, and YB Khairy Jamaluddin

The event was kicked off by a speech from Mr. Pradeep Nair, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Taylor’s University, who entreated that Malaysia lacks behind Indonesia China Korea Singapore in entrepreneurship rate and that institutions must play larger role to nurture entrepreneurial skill.

Datuk Ranjit Ajit Singh, the chairman of Securities Commission Malaysia mentioned that Malaysia has 2.7 trillion ringgit in stocks, or roughly three times our GDP, the country also has the worlds largest Islamic market and we are ranked 4th in the world in terms of investment protection. The key is to educate investors to be money wise, empower them to reach personal financial goal, and to reduce investment scams.

YB Khairy Jamaluddin then took over the stage before launching the InvestSmart application, and mentioned that 60 people in Malaysia goes bankrupt everyday, cost of living is going up, and EPF is no longer sufficient as the sole vehicle for retirement funding. We should start saving more than the mandatory and invest wisely. The government is also providing investment incentives for the youth via PRS scheme to encourage investments amongst the younger population. His key massages were that we need to be wary on ponzi schemes, and the stock market isn’t a regulated casino.

panel discussion with Hidayah Hassan, Hugh Koh, Shanker Joyrama, and Adrian Yap
panel discussion with Hidayah Hassan, Hugh Koh, Shanker Joyrama, and Adrian Yap

The panel of Hidayah Hassan, Hugh Koh, Shanker Joyrama, and Adrian Yap then took over the stage and shared their entrepreneurial journeys with the audience. They were the creative director of Cipela, co-founder and creative director of Pastle and Mortar, Founder & CEO of Orion Social Media, and the founder of Urbanscapes Arts Festival.

Each provided sound advice and valuable lessons to the crowd.

InvestSmart application on iOS and Android devices
InvestSmart application on iOS and Android devices

At the end of the speeches and panel discussion, I immediately downloaded the InvestSmart application to check it out, and I must say that the amount of information packed in this neatly packaged software is quite impressive.

Available in both English and Malay, you can find licensed intermediaries, who to check with for a product, the list of capital market institutions, and so forth.

built in handy financial calculator
built in handy financial calculator

There’s also a handy financial calculator you can use to figure out what sort of return you can expect if you invest certain amount of money. For example, if you start with RM 5000 and invest RM 1000 every month (not different from buying a car) with an expected return of just 5%, by the 10th year you’ll have RM 164,164 in your account. Pretty neat isn’t it?

is this a genuine investment?
is this a genuine investment?

Additionally, and perhaps one of the most useful features is one that is aptly named “Is this a genuine investment?”. This section guide you through a series of questions and advise the user if the investment opportunity is genuine or possibly a scam. When anyone approach you for some business opportunity or quick rich schemes, do run it through this.

Outside the lecture hall, there were also games available for students to learn more about investment. It was overall a pretty cool initiative taken by the Securities Commission. I urge you to download the InvestSmart application on your devices, and to check out  www.investsmartsc.my

With all the handy tools available in the InvestSmart App, start investing and start saving the smart and simpler way!

They say there’s no free lunch in life, but sometimes we don’t need to take what “they” say in face value, for in this case there is really a free meal when you do something that many of us have to do in the first place – by reloading your prepaid mobile plan.

uMobile Free Meal promotion

You see, there’s now the uMobile Free Meal promotion that is going on until 31st August, 2014.

What you have to do to get this free meal is rather simple. With a top up of RM30 you’ll get a free Revive Isotonic Original 500ml, great for quenching your thirst in this heat, or to rehydrate yourself after a game of street football, badminton, or any other physical activity.

With a top up of RM50, you’ll get a Mamee Express Cup Curry Flavour plus the Revive Isotonic Original 500ml, essentially a full meal!

uMobile Free Meal
uMobile Free Meal – Mamee Express Cup Curry Flavor and Revive Isotonic Original 500ml

The redemption can be done at all 7-11 outlets in the country from now until 31st of August, 2014 while stock lasts.

All you have to do is just head to 7-11 and hand in the used reload card to the cashier, it’s that simple!

I redeemed mine at Ampang Park 7-11
I redeemed mine at Ampang Park 7-11

I got mine from Ampang Park 7-11 and it took all of 1 minute to get my Revive Isotonic drink and the Mamee Express Cup noodle. By the way, you can also use the hot water dispenser and most 7-11 and actually eat it there and then.

#TheBestFree available until 31st August, 2014
#TheBestFree available until 31st August, 2014

The redemption is not a one-off thing, if you reload 10 times, you can redeem 10 times! #TheBestFree

To find out how to top up and the listing of top up locations, head to https://www.u.com.my/prepaid-packages/top-up-locations

activated and reloaded!
activated and reloaded!

For those who might not be familiar with U Mobile Sdn Bhd, it is a Malaysian 3G mobile telecommunication service provider founded in 1998 as MiTV Networks Sdn Bhd. The cellphone prefix is the “prosperous” 018, allocated by MCMC. You can migrate your current number to uMobile network.