El Willy, A Spanish Gem on The Bund in Shanghai

Another throwback to my travels overseas this year takes me to a Spanish restaurant in Shanghai called El Willy, nestled in a prestigious location on the Bund along the river. My sister who lived in the city at the time brought me here, having known that I'm a big fan of tapas and any kind of food that exudes creativity.

el willy shanghai

It was late afternoon and my sister and I just finished having tea and oysters on a rooftop patio over some pleasant conversation. We then hopped in a cab towards El Willy about 12 minutes away, and entered one of the buildings that could pass off as a replica of a historical late 1800s building from France. We were instantly greeted by the host as we entered the 'Happy Spanish restaurant', appropriately titled for its vibrant and colourful space. It was dimly lit inside with dark wooden floors and tables. Across the room are large windows through which you'll see a stunning view of the Pudong skyline.

We both went to town on the menu, our eager eyes bigger than our stomachs ordering everything from traditional tapas to seafood and meat. For one, I thought the plateware was adorable; every decorative touch brought out the playful and happy style of chef Willy Trullas Moreno. 

How cute is this?

How cute is this?

Bruschetta and fresh olives (complimentary)

Bruschetta and fresh olives (complimentary)

Organic eggs cooked at 65 degrees with seared foie gras and truffle

Organic eggs cooked at 65 degrees with seared foie gras and truffle

Scallop ceviche, avocado and crispy shallots

Scallop ceviche, avocado and crispy shallots

I absolutely loved El Willy's modern take on traditional tapas. All the dishes were incredibly unique and full of personality. I was particularly fond of the cooling scallop ceviche, the comforting cheese broth in the medley of vegetables, and the lightly crisped Spanish pancake with chorizo. The Australian lamb was tender and liberal of tomato jam and spiced relish that complemented it surprisingly well.

Vegetarian feast of seasonal vegetables, herbs, wild mushrooms and flowers on a lightly smoked cheese broth

Vegetarian feast of seasonal vegetables, herbs, wild mushrooms and flowers on a lightly smoked cheese broth

Spanish omelette with Iberian chorizo

Spanish omelette with Iberian chorizo

L: Beef cheeks cooked for 5 hours with banana and passion fruit R: Australian grain-fed lamb cooked for 24 hours with charred eggplant, fresh oregano, tomato jam, and lightly spiced relish

L: Beef cheeks cooked for 5 hours with banana and passion fruit
R: Australian grain-fed lamb cooked for 24 hours with charred eggplant, fresh oregano, tomato jam, and lightly spiced relish

BBQ Wagwu "entraña" Manchego, truffle and marrow bone

BBQ Wagwu "entraña" Manchego, truffle and marrow bone

As I think back to this when we happily conversed over great food, the experience is what made it one of my best moments of 2014. For a foodie who's dubbed the role of suggesting where to go in my hometown, it's refreshing to have someone else take you to a restaurant suited to your liking in a city halfway around the world. The opportunity to see my sister only comes once in a blue moon now that she's living in a different country. But when it does come, I cherish the times we spend together and it's meals like these that I'll always remember.

El Willy
22 Zhong Shan East 2nd Rd 5th floor
Huangpu District, Shanghai, China