Second Helpings: El Willy
What: High-end tapas combined with Bund-side elegance
Where: 5/F, 22 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, near Xin Yong’an Lu. Tel: 5404 5757. Web: www.el-willy.com
Why: To sample the new (as well as tried and tested) chef specials at the fun, innovative and above all… sexy(!) restaurant
The truly unique El Willy brand has kept patrons from around the city, and further afield, coming back to their multiple restaurants in Shanghai and Hong Kong for years. The jewel in the crown of the flamboyant chef and restaurateur, Willy Trullas, is of course El Willy, and we went back, once again, to try their new range of chef specials.
El Willy is perpetually full, and on any night, weekday or weekend, bursting with chattering, happy tables, kept buoyed by a great atmosphere, interactive chefs and sweeping views out towards the skyscrapers of Lujiazui financial district. Its self-title sexiness oozes from the wait staff, to the interior design and to those allimportant dishes. This is a place to come, with friends or lovers, to share in the great atmosphere and even better food.
With a stimulating mix of flavours, textures and colours on every plate, there is a good mix of stalwart dishes, which we have come to favour on the menu, as well as innovative, new additions. One of the highlights of these
additions being kingfish and sea urchin tiradito in smoked yellow chilli sauce (RMB 125), a playful, bright and light dish offering a wide spectrum of flavours from umami all the way through to spice in small bite sized chunks.
The mini montaditos de bogarante, otherwise known as “sexy Boston lobster snacks” (RMB 188) are another top billing on the menu, and were inspired, along with a few other new dishes, by Chef Willy and Chef Koen’s recent trip to Peru. The El Nido Mollette Malloquin (RMB 22 per piece), mini steamed chorizo buns, soft poached quail egg, which oozes thick yolk when bitten into, is also a more than welcome newcomer. The lamb shoulder (RMB 488 for one kilogram) served with potatoes, tomatoes and Jerez, another newbie, is a solid and traditional offering, balancing out the more adventurous dishes on the new menu.
Of course, you can’t go to El Willy and not order the explosive balik salmon (RMB 98). It would be sacrilege not to eat the puff piece of bread, injected with cream cheese, topped with smoked salmon, black truffle and honey, and we are happy to report that it is still on the menu. Semi-cooked red tuna loin with gazpacho, avocado and olives (RMB 115) and the classically Spanish steamed mussels (RMB 248) are also firm favourites that will be sticking around for a while to come.
Finally, you can’t leave El Willy in good conscience without ordering rice. They offer paella in a juicy or dry style with a variety of additions, the perfect way to round out the meal, unless you are still able to fit in something sweet. In that case, ask for the special dessert, inspired by those naughty nipples from Zotter Chocolate Theatre. You won’t be disappointed!