El Willy is constantly on the top of many lists of best restaurants in Shanghai. Not an easy perch to maintain, yet, in my humble opinion and limited Shanghai experience, I think Guillermo ‘Willy’Trullas Moreno does a good job at it.
El Willy is unique in how its menu does traditional tapas like Iberian ham and brings his own style of tapas – with seafood, beef, and pork. What’s cool is that you are presented with chopsticks, as an indication of empathy towards the Shanghainese clientele, in which he embraces. I know I found myself using chopsticks on more than one dish. The outdoor al fresco setting in the walled garden is an excellent place to dining and enjoy our sangria.
Sangria, created by the gods (in my opinion), is the ideal drink for tapas or for any meal in which small plates of food are consumed. I don’t think sangria is appropriate for extravagant meals showcasing a particular meat. But when you’re with friends or a date, sangria can be leisurely drank and food enjoyed. Heck, girls love sangria – for the sweet wine taste. It can be considered a creeper drink (a drink that intoxicates in a slow manner). I especially liked the presentation of the sangria with the skewered fruit in the non traditional way. But make sure you don’t eat the fruit till the very end, after which it has been marinating in the wine.
After the colorful pitcher arrived, our first order of the “Tortilla Espanola” Spanish Omelette arrived. The Omelette included chorizo, a Mexican broken sausage – which had pretty good breakfast flavor. I could eat breakfast foods anytime of the day. Next week had the Crispy suckling pig which was cooked for 12 hours. The pork meat and sweet apple offset the savory flavor. A great combination which was so good, that I think was the best dish we had. The last of the tapas was the Canelones a la Barcelonesa” Mixed chicken & beef cannelloni, bechamel sauce with cheese gratin & black truffle. I was told that you could smell the aromatic truffle oil with every whiff. But I wasn’t that impressed. This dish was the worst dish that we ordered. The texture of the chicken and beef, was like minced meat mush. Perhaps something you spread on bread. This funny texture was agreeingly not good, even with the yummy baked cheese and pasta.
To round out our meal, we had the Willy’s very special lobster & mixed seafood dry paella 388 RMB. One of the more pricey items, it was recommended by the server – perhaps maybe not the best strategy – but more of something hit and miss. The lobster and prawns were baked together with the traditional spanish seafood rice. The meat was cooked well, but left us to almost ignore the prawns. I like the rice, which soaked up the spices and juices.
El Willy’s outdoor patio is a great place to enjoy the company of friends when the weather is right, specially in the Autumn and Spring cool months. But make sure you have a pitcher or two of the sangria.
What to Order: sangria, paella, iberia ham
What not to Order: canelones a la barcelonesa
Price Range 3 $/¥/NT