Eat a Bowl of Tea is set in New York's Chinatown during the immediate postwar years. After a seeming eternity of separation, Chinese immigrants are finally allowed to bring their spouses to the U.S. thanks to looser immigration laws. Those husbands and wives no longer able to procreate fully expect their own sons to head back to China to seek out new brides. Russell Wong plays Ben Loy, a young man who decides not to marry the bride picked out for him, but a girl of his own choice, Mei Oi (played by Cora Miao). The film tackles several issues, including Mei's difficulty in assimilation, Ben's problems with his intrusive relatives, the outside pressure brought to bear in producing an heir, and the ongoing struggle of making ends meet financially. Both bride and groom respond to their insecurities by indulging in extramarital affairs. It takes several near-catastrophic events to prompt a happy reconciliation. Partially funded by PBS' American Playhouse production staff, Eat a Bowl of Tea is based on an extremely popular Chinese-language novel by Louis Chu.
by Hal Erickson synopsis