"Uncle Joe" — whose menu features the cuisine of Henan province, breadbasket of central China, where wheat-based noodles are the foundation of many meals — also serves three versions of kou wan.
Two, the crispy (pork) meat and the chicken, are breaded with flour and egg, then fried. But after long cooking in a liquid thickened with sweet potato starch and agar, and most notably flavored with star anise and black pepper, the breading is no longer so crispy. I prefer the unbreaded pork ribs (shown above and below, $7.50). Likewise, although the more common practice is to upend the cooking vessel over a separate serving plate — that is, to "kou wan," or "invert bowl" — I prefer this soupier presentation, with an absorbent serving of white rice on the side.
Back home in Henan, says owner Steven Zhou, kou wan is a traditional favorite for the Chinese New Year. At his namesake restaurant, the three dishes are available year-round.
83-29 Broadway (near Dongan Ave.), Elmhurst, Queens