Situated in The South Bund 22, an illustrious, elegant building on the Bund in Shanghai, El Willy is a contemporary Spanish restaurant brought to us by the creative Spanish chef, Willy Trullas Moreno, who has also opened the funky restaurant, Fofo by El Willy, in Hong Kong.
The interior of the restaurant was bright and cheery, with sharp colours, wooden tables and paintings decorating its walls. The view, overlooking Shanghai’s Huangpu River, was magnificent– it is little wonder that El Willy is often cited as one of the best places for brunch in Shanghai.
As the restaurant is closed on Sundays, we came on a Saturday and opted for the 6-course brunch menu which only cost RMB 175. If you cannot wake up in time for brunch, you should come here for dinner as the a la carte items are also fantastic.
(1) We started off with a Traditional Spanish Salmorejo, which was nicely chilled and had an attractively grainy texture and an invigorating tomato taste. It was delicately seasoned with a bit of finely chopped egg white, and a piece of iberico ham add extra flavours to this cold soup.
(2) The second course was a Mixed Seafood “cocktail” on crab cream pomelos, grapefruit and basil sorbet. The seafood cocktail was delicious, and had large, hearty chunks of seafood in it, including shrimps and octopus. The crab cream pomelo was alluringly sweet and smooth, and the grapefruit and basil sorbet was icy and refreshing. These ingredients created an incredible symphony of flavours, but the only fault was that there were some shrimp shells in the seafood cocktail.
(3) Our third course was the Organic egg cooked 65°C, rustic potatos and morcilla. The organic egg was soft, delicate and runny. The nicely seasoned potatoes and the spicy morcilla added some flair to this dish, and balanced out the meekness of the egg.
(4) Our fourth course was the Snapper on corn/ vanilla raviolis with citrus relish. We were already slightly full by this time, but we happily devoured the snapper, which had a beautiful, firm texture. I loved this slightly citrus dish which was buttery and creamy, with a hint of lemon taste and an attractive mango flavour. The ravioli, however, was uninspiring, as the corn/vanilla paste in the middle was tasteless and its texture was too thick.
(5) The Juicy Spinach Rice finished with Goatcheese was terrific, and had a fabulous, thick consistency. The colour was in a beautiful shade of green from the spinach, and it had a delicious aroma of goat cheese. A few thin slices of mushroom completed this dish.
(6) Our dessert was a platter of Chocolate and organic fruits, which was unfortunately rather disheartening. The chocolate cake was strangely soggy and sticky, and the melon and apple slices didn’t go well with the cream puff or the chocolate cake. The sorbet on the side was not memorable either.
Even though the taste of food was a bit inconsistent, the dishes were innovative and playful, and the ambience was perky and cheerful. El Willy is a restaurant that will bring a smile to your face!