Directed by Gbenga Komolafe and written by Tee Jaehyung Park, Nikki spices things up at her mom’s struggling tofu restaurant while working to afford her breast augmentation surgery. Starring: Austria Wang and Miju Kim Pascual.
The title might make you raise an eyebrow but while you might be expecting something out there or intensely quirky, what you get is actually surprisingly sweet and wholesome. It opens on such a modern Instagram style moment that it gives the impression it’s going to dive into a world of vanity, sugar daddies and cosmetic surgery but while each of those things have a part to play, they’re not the heart to 100% USDA Certified Organic Homemade Tofu. It holds a modern look throughout, with a stylish edge but never being over stylised, there’s a great consistency and smooth flow to its quality. It’s colourful but not in a hyperactive manner, embracing Nikki’s (Austria Wang) outgoing personality but not distracting from it.
Tee Jaehyung Park’s writing style has a charming simplicity to it because when you boil it down, it’s about a mother-daughter relationship. Granted, there is more going on but all of it feeds into how their connection is translated. Starting out with having a Trans character, the script acknowledges it but never needs to make it an issue, debate or anything other than a regular part of life, which is refreshing to see. Touching upon body image, it deals with it both through the lens of being Trans but also through the collective experience for many women; not being happy with parts of their body and wanting them to fit a certain beauty standard. It’s handled excellently, with characters not actively encouraging Nikki’s desire to change herself, reminding her that she doesn’t need to and to be happy with herself. It also respects that it’s a personal choice and if that’s what she wants, it’s entirely up to her. While all of that sounds fairly serious, it’s done in a light and sweet way, it’s got a fun sense of humour and it lets the comedy come out naturally.
Creating that mother-daughter relationship comes effortlessly to Austria Wang and Miju Kim Pascual. They have the classic banter and argumentative nature while getting across the love that lies beneath it. One of the best things about 100% USDA Certified Organic Homemade Tofu is how their understanding of one another develops throughout the film. It’s a sincerely charming transition, to watch how they open up and realise what they have to offer each other, as well as how to be more appreciative. Austria Wang brings a big personality to Nikki, she’s strong and relentless, she knows what she wants and she’ll work for it. She taps into the idea of pushing away from family to become your own person, but realising that you need to find the right balance of creating a new life without alienating your roots. While Miju Kim Pascual brings a humbling amount of pride and a very grounded nature to her character, showing her desire to help Nikki but not wanting to simply hand her a solution.
100% USDA Certified Organic Homemade Tofu is a mix of modern and classic, bringing a new spin to a familiar tale of a mother-daughter relationship. It has a strong style, there’s a great sense of humour and it’s a lot of fun. It brings in a number of different issues and deals with them in a way that reflects everyday life but with added flair. Austria Wang and Miju Kim Pascual are a perfect pairing bringing very different characters and lovingly finding their way to see eye to eye. It’s full of personality and energy but it’s also unexpectedly wholesome and will warm your heart with its effortless charm.