Miss Wonton

Malaysian-born filmmaker Meng Ong's promising debut is a warm and well-told tale of one recent Chinese immigrant's experiences in New York City. Ah Na (endearing newcomer Amy Ting) arrives in Chinatown after a close brush with death drives her from her provincial Chinese village. She's given a job at Buddha's Happiness, a tiny storefront takeout place operated...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

Reviewed by Ken Fox
Rating:

Malaysian-born filmmaker Meng Ong's promising debut is a warm and well-told tale of one recent Chinese immigrant's experiences in New York City. Ah Na (endearing newcomer Amy Ting) arrives in Chinatown after a close brush with death drives her from her provincial Chinese village. She's given a job at Buddha's Happiness, a tiny storefront takeout place operated by stern Mrs. Sum (Sakura Teng, Ting's real-life mother). Mrs. Sum also offers Ah Na a cot in the crowded rooms upstairs that already house her other employees, including childlike May (Yang Liu) and delivery boy Mr. Chung (Ben Wang), an older man who, after years of residence, still feels like an outsider in his adopted home. But Ah Na believes the rooms are also inhabited by the ghosts of Mrs. Sum's past employees, particularly the spirit of a young waitress who allowed herself to be seduced by a white man and later abandoned her illegitimate baby in Grand Central Station. Haunted by the story, Ah Na takes a trip to the fabled station and wanders into what's known among its habitués as the "Golden Palace," a remote area where single immigrant women congregate in hopes of hooking up with white commuters who regularly prowl the area. Ah Na soon learns that different types of girls are referred to by regional dishes — Japanese girls are "sushi," Chinese girls like Ah Na are known as "wontons" — while the men who pass through are named according to their desirability: Every girl there hopes to one day land herself a rich "escargot." Determined not to wind up as scared as May or as embittered as Mrs. Sum, Ah Na sets about making her American Dream come true, but mistakenly believes the surest path is to be found in the underground byways of the Golden Palace. Meng's film, which uses a fairly sophisticated flashback structure to reveal the secrets of Ah Na's past in China, touches on a number of very serious subjects: the business of illegal immigration, the exploitation of "aliens" and the treatment of people with AIDS in China. But it's also filled with touches of humor: Meng even manages to give his story an uplifting, if not exactly happy, ending. The film also features a wonderful Asian pop soundtrack that showcases a number of vintage songs sung by the marvelous Ms. Teng, back when she was known as the Asian Go-Go Queen of the 1970s. (In English and Mandarin, with English subtitles.)

Watch This Now!

Your new favorite show is right here. Trust us.

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 2001
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Malaysian-born filmmaker Meng Ong's promising debut is a warm and well-told tale of one recent Chinese immigrant's experiences in New York City. Ah Na (endearing newcomer Amy Ting) arrives in Chinatown after a close brush with death drives her from her pro… (more)

Show More »