Impressive modern Spanish cuisine in a delightful space on the riverfront of The Bund
October 24th, 2012
The self-titled “Happy Spanish Restaurant”- el Willy has been a hit among Shanghai diners since it first opened in 2008. Serving a contemporary style Spanish cuisine of modern tapas with a twist, and Barcelona-style rice dishes, el Willy has been the recipient of a multitude of awards from local lifestyle media including “Restaurant of the Year” and “Best Chef” awards. Founded by Barcelona native Willy Trullas Moreno, el Willy was originally housed in an old colonial villa in the former French Concession district of Shanghai, and in early 2012 has re-located into a restored, century-old historical building at the southern end of The Bund- a prime riverfront location at the heart of Shanghai’s business, retail and and nightlife districts. The infectious charm and exuberance of Chef Willy suffuses the restaurant with an atmosphere of relaxed and cheerful hospitality, and combining the masterful execution of an innovative cuisine, with approachable pricing, el Willy continues to delight diners in Shanghai.
el Willy serves lunch and dinner six days a week ( closed on Sundays). Reservations are recommended.
The main dining room space features simple but playful table settings of mismatched chairs, brown leather benches and rectangular timber tables.
The prominent century-old historical building that is home now to el Willy stands on the riverfront at the south end of the landmark The Bund. Recently refurbished, the prestigious building now houses restaurants, offices and upmarket residences. Occupying a prime corner space on the top floor of the five level building overlooking the Huangpu River environs, patrons at el Willy enjoy wonderful views across the river to the spectacular skyline of the Pudong financial district.
The interior has been designed with an “industrial chic” style of polished reclaimed timber flooring, exposed brickwork, raw concrete pillars and ceiling with exposed ducts and suspended 70’s style lamps. The dining floor spaces are divided into different sections by small variations in levels, and also the colorfully hand-painted murals on glass panels that extend from the top of the bench seats to the ceiling. The beautiful large steel framed arched windows that extend down each external wall flood the inner spaces with natural light during the days, and provide diners with the wonderful views – day and night- across the river to the Pudong skyline.
A solid timber “L” shaped dining counter wraps around the semi-open kitchen at the rear of the room, with bright red leather seats lining the low counter. The Spanish influences are evident through the display of memorabilia collected from Barcelona and showcased on shelving along the entrance passage and behind the bar counter.
A section of the solid timber counter that wraps around the semi-open kitchen. The glass display cabinet holds the fresh ingredients in the style of the classic tapas bars of Barcelona.
Looking towards the front corner of the main dining room space- with the elegant arched windows, exposed red bricks, and warm timber flooring providing an atmosphere of warmth and coziness.
The fabulous views from a window-front table- framed by the original steel framed windows.
Window-front section of the dining room.
The playful hand-painted murals on glass panels add their distinctive and colorful charm to the room.
The upper level dining space- adjacent to the entrance and bar counter.
Timber paneled wall at the entrance- showcasing the many restaurant awards garnered by el Willy
Highlights from the Summer Menu
The el Willy cuisine is crafted from the traditional Spanish dishes, but created with a fun twist to present contemporary tapas & rices . The structure of the menu follows the Chinese Yin Yang structure of a meal, and all the food is designed to be eaten comfortably with chopsticks. The menu changes seasonally to take advantage of the best produce available at the time, and to adapt the ingredients to create dishes that suit the mood of the season.
The menu is structured along conventional lines- with selections of cold cuts and cheeses, and preserved seafoods, followed by traditional tapas dishes. Separate selections of “Willy Style Seafood Tapas” and “Willy Style Meat Tapas” showcase the culinary creativity of Chef Willy. The “El Willy Rice & Angel Hair” selections offer both “juicy style” and “dry style” paellas – all for sharing by two. A concise offering of desserts completes the menu.
The well groomed wine list features an impressive selection of Spanish wines and sherries to accompany the cuisine.
Willy Style Seafood Tapas: Explosive Balik Salmon with sour cream and truffle honey
Willy Style Meat Tapas: Iberian Pork Neck, confit piquillo peppers and spicy parsley pistou
Willy Style Seafood Tapas: Scallop ceviche, avocado and crispy shallots.
Willy Style Seafood Tapas: Grilled crispy Salmon on a spicy ceviche juice
Willy’s Mixed Seafood Dry Paella ( for 2 persons)
One of the hand-painted glass panels details the paella ingredients.
el Willy- Spanish restaurant in Shanghai
Address: 5/F, The SBUND 22, 22 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu- near Jinling Lu, Shanghai 200002. China
Metro: Line 10 Yuyuan Garden
Enquiries: +86.21. 5404 5757
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday
Lunch : 11:30 am ~ 2:30 pm
Dinner: 6:00 pm ~ 10:30 pm (last order)