This New York-based, Hong Kong-born filmmaker helmed a first feature that strove to transcend the East Asian stereotypes prevalent in Hollywood entertainment. Budgeted at a thrifty $200,000 (payment was deferred to cast, crew, and co-producer), "Combination Platter" (1993) was shot in 24 days after hours at the Chan family's restaurant. The enterprising young filmmaker spent a year editing the footage in the kitchen of his parents' Long Island house while spending several days each week doing restaurant work. The final product netted Chan the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance, inclusion in the 1993 New Directors/New Films series at NYC's MOMA, and a screening during the prestigious Critics Week at Cannes.
"Combination Platter" is the story of Robert, an illegal immigrant from Hong Kong, trying to make a living and acquire a green card in Flushing, a heavily Asian neighborhood in Queens, New York. He works in a Chinese restaurant staffed by Asians of various backgrounds and frequented by troublesome white Americans. The film offers a flavorful clash of cultures set in an underrepresented movie milieu.