Kung Fu Connection- Part 2

    Hi everyone!  Can I let my fingers express freely for a moment, please excuse my unrefined writing etiquette, typing as talking, to let this voice inside of myself breath some fresh air and hopes to inspire you in your daily activities.  I’m reaching out again to talk about this art that we study, as it is on my mind mostly every day, for mostly all of the days.  This practice, “man’s labor” known as Kung Fu, such a beautiful art to take part in.. Like committing oneself to understanding our own minds and breath, physical form…  The practice of understanding Life and the human experience of existing in this physical realm as a spiritual being!  This post may not agree with everyone, fair warning that I have my own beliefs and like the food we cook, some may like it, and others not!  

    In its most basic form, Kung Fu is to practice through labor what it means to work, and in advanced understanding to heighten one’s sensitivity and consciousness connecting ourselves with the primordial “essence” or Tao, would be an ultimate purpose.  Through the years studying under our teacher, have been trained with certain disciplines and behaviors to advance our own beings toward a better life path.  You may know of many martial art schools, and have an idea of the higher teachings of “warrior” life, maybe through some books or movies, folk knowledge of Samaurai, mystic monks in the hills, but what you see on TV these days, is not the art that we study!  This is no gym that we pay dues to, to build muscles, become aggressive or intimidating people or to fight in a cage for money.  This rare art is one that we study, as if accepting the responsibility of holding a gun, one must be taught manners in society and difference between right and wrong to earn the right to protect and teach a deadly art.  This art is rare indeed, as it is so common in our society to find a UFC style gym and learn how to hurt someone, or to purchase a gun for that matter.  

    So what does it take to learn Kung Fu, as many people may feel that it is no longer applicable or obsolete to know how to use a sword in modern times?  Ask yourself what kind of person does it take to wield a sword these days?  If we compare it to the purchase of a modern weapon, then in fact it only takes a clean background and a 45 day wait.  This is not the art that we study!  So how does one learn or teach morality and awareness through martial arts?  The answer to this unfortunately I cannot say.  As those masters might call the great essence of the Tao, “the nameless”, so if to speak its name would lower the weight or true meaning of it!  So only then can I say that in order to learn you must pick up the sword and walk the path, but choose your teacher wisely!

    So what in our daily lives makes it different from most?  We could say that on very basic levels to eradicate ourselves from dependency on substances, although we do not remove all completely, like mild caffeine or sugar, but mostly avoid stronger ones like alcohol or other mind numbing drugs that may decrease one’s perception.  Aside from this to work out, and meditate daily eating healthy with a positive karmic attitude stemming from a vegetarian diet, as we would not create negativity for ourselves by hurting animals for consumption.  As I said I don't want to preach, some may agree, and others not.  This is just my personal expression and humor as a martial student and teachings that I wholly believe in!  

    If you were to go to many martial arts schools, you would not find much of this study to advance Spiritual knowledge and understanding it is a rare thing, and often debated that there is no place in it within the martial art community, as many say if you are seeking spirituality or morality then go to church!  For us it is our practice, same as cooking.  If you allow your daily life and cooking to become bland and repetitive, then the flavor will be the same!  So we work hard in kung fu to advance ourselves, same as we focus daily in business to advance our flavors!  

    So you might ask about our kung fu, food and cooking, if we are advocates of healthy lifestyle, why are we not following the “pure” food trend, raw or vegan food diets?  Quick answer is that like having dark with light, we choose a balanced life, and to take care of the bigger things but worry less about the small ones.  We work out plenty, so tasty foods with moderate salt or oils is normal, and what is life if you are so disciplined never to enjoy a cheese puff or crunchy potato chip?  So our hoagies have both fresh and light vegetables, along with crunchy and salty or flavorful sauces.  We sell potato chips and sodas, and I believe always will.  This Kung Fu practice and lifestyle filled generously with our daily intake of protein and noodles was entrusted to us through our Teacher and Sifu, who was in turn taught from his Master, as the physical and spiritual art has survived and adapted through many cultures, countries, religions, civilizations, wars, etc, evolved and refined through each Master!  So what you are tasting in our hoagies, is in fact an art that has lasted since ancient China, although created by relatively beginner hands!  This is our life’s pursuit, we hope you enjoy!  Happy 2016 everyone, year of the Monkey!

"What's a Kung Fu Hoagie?!" -learn more about your favorite bánh mì

As our favorite Vietnamese hoagie gains popularity in the city, we rarely get the question "what's a bánh mì?"  as much as "what the heck is a Kung Fu Hoagie?!"  This question usually followed by "hoagies with a kick right?!" or "really packs a punch!"  (To which we would humbly agree:)  As much as we admire and try to emulate traditional Vietnamese vegetarian cooking, we can't change who we are.  So, armed with the blueprint from Sifu Phan's "Kung Fu cooking", as american artists, we can't help but go just a little bigger, and maybe turn up the heat a notch to keep people's interest.  

So let's go back to the beginning real quick, although most of you know by now... What is a "bánh mì"?  In Vietnam, this term really just means any type of bread, but has been familiarized as a traditional hoagie with toppings made popular in Saigon.  The baguette itself was introduced through the french colonization of Vietnam, although changed slightly with added rice flour for a more crispy and airy texture.  The hoagie as most know it, has the standard lineup of pickled carrot and daikon radish, cilantro, jalapeño, cucumber, with any mayo, butter or strong soy sauce "maggi", sometimes found with páte (or a vegetarian version).  Top it with your favorite protein, "bì chay" (vegetarian pork skin), xíu mại (tofu meatball) or thịt bò (vegetarian beef), you are on your way to learning the advanced bánh mì kung fu styles :D:D:D

So come try one sometime!  We did our best to keep the old subtle traditions, but you might really enjoy a shift to our eccentric style of cooking!  Hope to see you soon!  


Benefits to Vegetarianism

Like most people, Steve and I weren't raised vegetarian.  I had tried for several years in my early 20's to avoid meat but ended up going back and forth out of convenience or unhealthy lifestyle.  It took us some time too, having gone through many martial arts schools, to find a real traditional Master qualified to help guide people into a healthy, stable way of life.  I would say for us, being in a positive environment and around other vegetarians helped us to make the final commitment.   

After giving up meat for some time we noticed a lot of really positive changes.  Immediately I noticed better digestion and energy levels.  I remember now all of those years I spent eating meat and how I would feel after a big meal.  A lot of times meals would weigh me down and make me feel heavy or sleepy, instead of providing energy like they should!  After a few months, I feel I noticed some positive changes in my mind too.  Regular exercise and meditation helped this also, but I know cutting out all of those hormones and steroids they pump into meat did something!  Anyway, after becoming vegetarian, I feel healthier, with better digestion, more focused, and a "cleaner" body and mind.  Its not an easy thing to do at first, but it really is worth it in the long run!  

I'm not asking anyone to believe in the things I do, but if you did in fact believe in karma, or the idea of "what goes around, comes around" you might consider the effect of human consumption of animals.  If you haven't seen it and are brave enough, i would recommend watching some of the videos online about the treatment of animals in the US meat industry.  Its a real eye opener to the behind the scenes about the meat that is neatly wrapped on grocery store shelves!  

If you are thinking about making the switch but are having trouble finding foods to eat or want to learn some basics on cooking, stop by the cart or email us!  We are happy to help.  Also if you are looking for some additional support, you can find some local vegetarian meet up groups online, or check out some of the cities other vegetarian restaurants here.  Take care, hope to see you soon!


Kung Fu Connection- Part 1

I'll try to keep this on the shorter side as a blog entry, but I could write or talk about kung fu all day.  There are so many places to begin, so i'll just start by saying that the art that we study is a wonderfully fascinating human experience and very personal/spiritual journey that we are really proud to be a part of.  The impact that it has had on both of us in such a short amount of time as really brought out some well needed internal character developments and written a short story worth a novel. 

When i first started studying, my dad (who is turning 80 this year!) asked me what kung fu is.  He had heard about it like most people, but didn't really know the difference between other martial arts, and kinda grouped it in with Karate picturing the local C.S. Kim or "KARATE" mall type places.  Lots of yelling and "Ki-yas"!  Kung Fu is a little different.  Well I guess the particular style we study is.  The majority of the martial arts community might agree that kung fu styles can be categorized into Northern or Southern Chinese characteristics, internal (energy) or external (physical) styles.  Than Vo Dao (our style) is a mix of Northern and Southern, with both internal and external practices.  It has been passed from Master to disciple, with very little written account or structured learning process.  Only the will and dedication of the disciple (along with their karma!) combined with the watchful eye and sharp mental training of the Master, has this art survived for thousands of years!  When compared with other styles or searching for some sort of identity in the arts, it might be fitting to consider us the humble long-haired travelers and free-spirit buddhist/taoist practitioners of the martial arts community. 

So question... what is the practice like?  Do you guys carry buckets of water up flights of stairs and do flips and stuff?  Short answer... No we don't.  A lot of that stuff is from the movies or for entertainment or showy purposes.  The art we study has very practical applications for self defense, physical and mental health, internal awareness, spiritual development, focus and peace of mind.  There are so many people suffering with many types of illnesses and struggling through poverty, Kung Fu is like a physical and spiritual practice of self-determination and discipline to conquer many of life's obstacles.  Its not an easy path to take, but rewards from it can be great!  

We practice forms, weapons, and sparring together.  Classes can be structured sometimes, but often you might find it like joining a studio arts class.  Relaxed setting and families welcome, its very different from many martial arts schools out there.  We like to meditate and practice chi kung (breathing exercise) too.  Nothing crazy or super structured, but it really helps focus, repair or build energy, clear the mind among many other health benefits. Kung Fu can be literally translated to "the labor of man" or "hard work".. which it is!  But after gaining some discipline and balance, the work becomes very fulfilling in itself; striving  towards an unbreakable "walking meditation" through the modern world.  

Hope you enjoy my introduction to our world and perspective on the art!  My posts on Kung Fu might jump topics often, but feel free to comment or ask questions.  Hope to hear from you! 




Kung Fu Hoagies- What's in the name?

So Kung Fu Hoagies huh?  Since opening 4 years ago, we have had so many questions about our name...  most positive, some not, but you can't help but ask yourself about it.  I'd say that most people at first glance pick us off to be some sort of new age hipster vegetarian asian-fusion type cart.. I mean come on, two long haired white boys serving southeast asian food?  Kung Fu Hoagies?  Who needs to look any deeper than that?  Well, like in any business in order to survive, you have to stand out.  You have to have a name. But more importantly you have to have something behind the name!  

Since we love so much to disappoint the haters out there, I'm going to tell you a little secret.  Kung Fu Hoagies wasn't born in a corporate office at a brainstorming table.  (shhhhh!)   KFH wasn't a schtick thought up by savy business people to lure ignorant consumers.   Kung Fu Hoagies was born in a real kung fu studio!  On the mat, with weapons and wooden dummies.  Real blood & sweat (but no tears!)  The name, the cart, the food, the art, we live it the best we can.  We do love the attention though, I mean we had to run with the idea a little...   

So yeah.  Thats our story.  We started KFH under the guidance of a real kung fu Master.  Crazy huh?  Originally we were going to start a vegetarian hot dog cart, but our Sifu was like no way you guys should do bánh mì!  The style we study is a mixed animal style that migrated from China through Thailand, Laos, Burma, Cambodia, into Vietnam, and now America!  Our teacher is Chinese-Vietnamese.  So our cart is exactly that.  Right now we focus on Vietnamese food, with the occasional Southeast Asian or Chinese treat.  Served from two dedicated Kung Fu white boys.  Ahem...  I mean student-disciples!