Fri, Feb 18, 2005 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: West Well Cuisine(西井村)

Address: 19, Xindong St, Taipei (台北市新東街19號)
Telephone: (02) 2749 2288
Open: 11:00am to 3pm, 4:30pm to 9:00pm
Average meal: NT$180
Details: No English menus, credit cards not accepted

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

West Well Cuisine is heaven for pig-knuckle lovers.

PHOTO: YU SEN-LUN, TAIPEI TIMES

West Well Cuisine (西井村) features two traditional foods, stew pig knuckles and beef noodles, and is in the high-end residential district of Ming-sheng East Road. Unlike many pig knuckle or beef noodle places where walls and ceilings are dark with grease, the interior of West Well Cuisine is clean and classic: black wooden tables and benches and brick-red tiles.

The cozy and clean environment attracts customers at a first sight, and the delicious, uniquely prepared food keeps them coming back.

The difference in the restaurant's stew knuckles -- and the secret keeping the stores walls free of grease -- is the "dry style" of preparing the knuckles. They are stewed in an off-location central kitchen and are sent to the store in vacuum packs without the soup. Without the big pot constantly stewing gelatin and fat out of the knuckles, the restaurant looks brighter and less greasy.

The process of stewing the knuckles sold here also gives them a unique spicy taste that further makes the place stand out from other knuckle stores.

Owner Lee Chang-lung (李昌隆) explained the complicated process: The knuckles are boiled, quickly drained and then placed in flowing water for 30 minutes so the smell of pork can be mostly removed. The knuckles are then stewed with soy sauce, spring onions, ginger and chili for about two hours.

If you like the jelly-like parts of the pig knuckle and are not afraid of the pig skin, I recommend Pig Knuckle Dry Noodles (豬腳乾麵). The slightly spicy knuckle contains abundant tendon and a little meat. It goes well with the noodles and bean sprouts on the side.

The key to the other house specialty, beef noodles (牛肉麵), is the choice of meat. Lee chooses the parts close to the thighbones of a cow. This meat is streaky and contains more tendon, which makes for smoother chewing. One trouble of having beef noodles is that you often get meat fibers stuck in the slit between your teeth. But with Lee's choice of meat it seldom happens.

The soup of the noodle is clear and light, not spicy at all, which is another major difference with usual beef noodles stores. Lee said the reason is to preserve the original taste of the meat. If you really want your noodles to be spicy you can add spicy oil into the soup.

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