Poetry & Writing

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At the Wonton Monkee

My husband, the ex-army mess cook

from Maine, doesn't fight

the neighborhood grub, doesn't expect much

in the way of good truck-stop coffee,

small talk, or accurate translations

from the blunt-faced waitresses who hurry

customers & order for them. As he cleans

his chopsticks with tea, the way

I showed him, Iron Goddess of Mercy

stripping their sticky shine, I muscle

him to try the blackboard special—

fish bladders bubbling

in a clay pot—to break out

of his sweet & sour rut. After all,

our children will be half Chinese.

He eyes scaly pike plucked

from the live tank, orders the #34,

Happy Chicken—Mild. At the far end,

the chow-splattered fat guy, whose face

decorates the greasy menu, chops slabs

of roasted suckling & cleaves open

the pearled flesh of an octopus, tossing it,

hot & bothered, to ooze its briny ink

onto a bed of rice. It's a sinus-clearing

classic only we Cantonese can stomach,

not honest like steak, served as bloody

as you like. The only things

the Chinese won't eat are rocks,

my husband comments, poking

at his chicken cubes, crimson red

& more sour than sweet.

                                                                        Priscilla Lee

"It's not fancy. It's not friendly. It's not even particularly clean.

But it's damn cheap and the portions are decent."
-- Johnny D. says about Menkee Wonton on

Dinner Specials at the Menkee Wonton
Photo by Ken K on Yelp

Chiu Chow "Da Lang" specials at the Menkee Wonton
Photo by Ken K on Yelp

Pork blook, pork skin, tofu and intestine pot
Photo by Jody C on Yelp

Fried large intestines
Photo by Jody C on Yelp