In Eat a Bowl of Tea, both Wang Wah Gay, owner of a mahjong club, and Lee Gong, a retiree, are old “bachelors” in New York City’s Chinatown. They decide to marry their children, Wang Ben Loy, a local waiter, and Lee Mei Oi, who lives in China. Their separation from their wives in China for more than twenty-five years prompts the two old men to agree that Ben Loy should bring Mei Oi to the United States after their marriage. Mei Oi, as a newcomer, has difficulty adjusting to the male-oriented communal life in Chinatown, and Ben Loy, pressured by work and his father’s expectation that he will produce a son to continue the family line, fails to comfort her with love. The young wife, coveted by other “bachelors,” finally falls victim to the predatory Ah Song, who impregnates her. When the affair is discovered, Ben Loy shuns the community for fear that his impotency has been disclosed. Mei Oi cannot confide in her father, a total stranger. Wah Gay, shamed by the incident, resorts to violence, cutting off Ah Song’s ear. Both Wah Gay and Ah Song are forced to leave Chinatown. Ben Loy, after drinking this bitter bowl of tea, resolves the problem by moving with Mei Oi to San Francisco’s Chinatown, where they can make a fresh start.