Mikasa and I recently headed over to Prego at The Westin Kuala Lumpur for the introduction of their new Italian Chef de Cuisine – Chef Ricky Parlanti. Italian cuisine is one of my favourites as I find something really comforting about a nice warm plate of delicious pasta. Being someone who loves cheese also meant that I know how to appreciate traditional Italian dishes like burrata and carbonara, while tiramisu with mascarpone cheese soaked with dark rum or brandy is one of the few desserts that I partake off.
Chef Ricky comes from a family with culinary background, and is the ninth generation of chefs in the Parlanti family. With over 35 years of culinary, food and beverage experience and exposure under his belt, Ricky has an extensive resume and a strong passion for food, having worked with numerous five-star restaurants and leading hotels in the world of various countries.
Apart from cooking, he also held senior and consultancy positions for all food and beverage aspects, designing and opening of restaurants, revamping concepts and menus, as well as overhauling the food and beverage operations. Locally, Chef Ricky has managed the famous Dining in the Dark KL, The Steakhouse KL and The Whiskey Bar, while on the international scene, he managed food and beverage catering at The Stone House Heritage Sanctuary in Tasmania, Australia. He also opened the first Italian restaurant, Valentino at Hyatt Regency Delhi in India and established an Italian restaurant, The Roma at The Peninsula Beijing in China. While he was working his way up the ladder, Ricky also designed and opened his own multi-award winning restaurant, The Mangotree Restaurant.
While pursuing his career, Ricky has won several achievements notably the Hospitality Asia Platinum Award 2005/2006 for Excellence in Hospitality Personality Chef of the Year and The Best Chef in Malaysia (Expatriate) Award in the Millennium Gold Awards 2001/2002. As a qualified Master Chef by ALMA La Scoula Internazionale di Cucina Italiana, the most prestigious culinary institute in Parma, Italy, the celebrity chef himself teamed up with a few local celebrity chefs for several varieties of TV cooking programmes like “Hey! Good Cooking” with Chef Wan.
Hailing from Tuscany, Ricky is determined to only deliver quality food and mesmerizing gastronomic experiences according to his one philosophy, which is to use only the freshest and most prestigious quality ingredients available with the contadino in mind, every dish cooked to order ensuring freshness, only then serving his guests. Although presentation is important, Ricky emphasizes on taste and flavor of a dish, he says, “Food should speak for itself as nothing can beat the quality of a well-prepared dish”.
Ricky believes in providing authentic Italian flavours, tracing back the genuine roots of Italian cuisine, and adapting it to the Asian palette. Ricky’s personal favourites from the current Prego menu includes the popular Carbonara e Castelmagno (Special Carbonara in Castelmagno Cheese Wheel), Rissoto ai Funghi Selvatici e Parmigiano (Rissoto, Wild Mushrooms and Parmesan Cheese) Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Grilled Grain-fed Angus T-bone Steak), Burrata con Verdure Grigliate (Burrata Cheese with Grilled Spring Vegetables) and the tender Branzino in Crosta di Sale (Salt-crusted Sea Bass).
Focusing on personalization, Ricky loves getting first-hand feedbacks and comments from diners which enables him to customize the dishes according to their desired taste. Occasionally, he designs a Menu Sorpresa (Surprise Menu) for diners by incorporating diners’ preferences into his dishes, providing them a bespoke culinary experience.
BURRATA CON VERDURE GRIGLIATE E PESTO ALLA GENOVESE – RM 65.00 nett
Burrata Cheese Served With Grilled Spring Vegetables, Basil and Pine Nut Emulsion
Oh my! Burrata! The creamy cheese was balanced out by the acidity, sweet and green flavours of the grilled vegetables, pesto and balsamic vinegar resulting in a dish that provided a burst of flavours and textures on the palate!
ZUPPA DI FUNGHI, AROMATIZZATA AL TARTUFO – RM 42.00 nett
Truffle Scented Cream of Field Mushroom
A lovely and hearty soup with a hint of truffles and cream (as not to overpower the dish) which gave it a luxurious taste! Velvety and slightly rich, with lots of earthy flavours from the mushrooms – exactly how I like my mushroom soup!
Il Primo – The Cook-Off
Chef Ricky faced Chef Rudy (the hotel’s Executive Chef) in a showdown to see who could cook the best pasta!
CARBONARA E CASTELMAGNO – RM 68.00 nett
Prego’s Special Carbonara with Beef Bacon, Egg Yolk, Cream, and Parmesan finished in Castelmagno Cheese Wheel
Chef Ricky adapted this one to the Asian palate which prefers more carbonara sauce (as opposed to the Italians who prefer this a bit more dry). While I don’t like my pasta swimming in sauce, I thought that this amount was just right with sauce covering every single piece of pasta. Loved the fact that it was finished in a cheese wheel which added lots of lovely cheesy flavours! I’m generally not too partial to beef bacon as I prefer the real thing however as Prego is a pork free restaurant, beef bacon was pretty much the substitute for pork bacon here. Surprisingly it imparted some really good savoury flavours to this dish! Must be some really high quality beef bacon.
This dish can be rather rich so I’d suggest that share it among two or more people and order another main that contains contrasting flavours.
GAMBERETTO AGLIO OLIO E PEPEROCINO
Asian Style Pasta, Prawns, Fresh Coriander, Garlic and Herbs crumbs
Executive Chef Rudy pulled this one out of his hat and the result was a total opposite of Chef Ricky’s more traditional Italian pasta. This one was full of Asian flavours and was pretty spicy – something us Asians appreciate! It was also really good and as it was spicy and had a lighter sauce I could eat more of this dish.
As this dish was worlds apart from Chef Ricky’s dish, I really didn’t want to choose which one was better than the other. Both were equally good so it pretty much boils down to what you’re craving for that day.
DUETTO DI BRANZINO E MANZO “PREGO”
(Pictured above is a tasting platter of both dishes and does not represent the actual serving size of both dishes.)
Wood Oven-Baked Salted Seabass – RM94.00 nett (Full portion)
Grain-Fed Angus Beef – RM286.00 nett per kg (Full portion)
The branzino was beautifully cooked and very juicy as the parchment paper trapped all the juices and flavours inside! The steak though was a lovely medium – nice and pink inside! Tender, flavourful and juicy and if that wasn’t enough it was also served with extra jus! I normally expect a good steak at the hotel’s grill and bar – Qba, which specialises in meat, however I was pleasantly surprised that Prego makes a mean steak too!
TIRAMISU TRADIZIONALE – RM 26.00 nett
Mascarpone Trifle, Espresso
One of the few desserts that I eat (I’m really not a dessert person) and it’s probably due to the fact that it contains coffee which I love. There are two (2) variants here at Prego namely with alcohol and without. Give me the variant with alcohol any day! This one went perfectly with the Long Black which I finished the meal with.
I must say that I really enjoyed the meal at Prego which featured traditional dishes composed by Chef Ricky. As always, Prego is a very suitable pleace for a nice romantic meal with your partner, and if the restaurant is not too busy, try asking Chef Ricky nicely if he can cook up something special and unique for you both!
Prego is located at:
The Westin Kuala Lumpur
199, Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Telephone: +603 2773 8338 (Westin Dining)
For more info on the hotel, head over to http://www.thewestinkualalumpur.com/
Photos shot with the Panasonic Lumix LX10.
To find out more about the camera, head over to http://www.panasonic.com/my/consumer/cameras-camcorders/lumix-digital-cameras/advanced-creative/dmc-lx10.html