"Studio arts, martial arts and culinary arts are all very important creative outlets for me," says 30-year-old South Philadelphia resident Paul Davis. "And they have all meshed together in a strange way with Kung Fu Hoagies."
Davis and partner Steve Renzi, also 30, debuted their food cart, Kung Fu Hoagies, last weekend in Clark Park. Offering all vegan and vegetarian fare -- Renzi and Davis both are vegetarians -- the cart is now stationed near 34th and Chestnut streets on weekdays and at Clark Park on weekends.
Davis and Renzi became fast friends while working together at Whole Foods several years ago. After traveling for a spell -- Davis lived briefly in South America and Seattle -- the two reconnected back in Philadelphia. Then they met Master Phuoc Phan, who practices a Vietnamese style of martial arts, and began studying with him at Seven Mountains Spirit First Kung Fu studio. It changed their lives.
"A big part of it is learning how to focus the mind and allow natural creativity to come out. Master Phan also helped us put together the menu: simple, healthy dishes," says Davis about the current hoagie and noodle options, which include a Vietnamese banh mi hoagie and sesame peanut chicken noodles (both vegan). "There's a strong Vietnamese food influence mixed with our own creativity."
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"They are symbols for good luck and good fortune," says Davis about the colorful dragons he painted on both sides of the cart. "And now the dragons symbolize good food." With long, curled whiskers and bulging eyes, they're also quite silly. But then, so is the cart's logo: a hoagie on a cutting board being karate chopped.