asian avenue magazine
Connecting Cultures Linking Lives
took his passion to support students and turned it into a career
April 2013 Volume 8 Issue 4
An Overdue Idea Theatre Espirit Asia Asian American theatre company’s first season begins
The way of the tea brings Zen tranquility to the Rocky Mountains My parents never say
‘I love you’
restaurant peeks Uncle + Pho Mai
Project Generation Connect reveals communication challenges in Asian families
The Empress Seafood
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Winner of many awards for best dim sum and Chinese Restaurant since 1993
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2013 Asian American Heroes of Colorado Award Ceremony Now in our 5th year, we honor deserving members of the Asian American community, the unsung heroes, the shining stars, the selfless leaders at the 2013 Asian American Heroes of Colorado Awards Ceremony and Brunch. Each selected hero will be presented a certificate of recognition and be featured in the May cover story of Asian Avenue magazine. Read our next issue to learn about this yearâ€™s heroes! Come to the ceremony to hear their inspiring stories and words of wisdom!
For more information, visit www.cacenetwork.org, e-mail email@example.com or call 303-937-6888.
Saturday, June 1st, 2013 | 10:00am to 12:00pm Kings Land Chinese Seafood
2200 West Alameda Avenue #44, Denver, CO 80223 Tickets: $20/Adult and $15/Senior and Student Includes dim sum brunch. Tickets available at www.cacenetwork.org.
1028 S. Gaylord Street Denver, CO 80209 Tel: 303.744.0330 Fax: 303.715.0336
Sushi and Japanese Cuisine
This program is presented by the Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network in collaboration with several AAPI organizations in Colorado.
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House Salad, Soup (Miso or Egg Drop), Edamame (Regular) Limit 1 per person. During lunch hours. Dine in only.
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asian avenue magazine
Lets dive right in to this issue! Our fantastic cover story was written by Brandon Iwamoto who visited Japan in fall of 2012. He observed the art of Japanese tea and discovered how the art form has made its way to Colorado. He shares with us the Chado or ‘the way of tea’, not only through his words but by his beautiful photography.
As we consider how tea improves our health, the mission of the Friendship Basketball League (FBL) also has health in mind. FBL encourages Asian Americans to get off the couch and get active in sports. Loc Nguyen, founder of FBL, shares the league fosters sportsmanship and physical activity on and off the court. But if basketball is not your cup of tea, how about theatre? Theatre Espirit Asia (TEA), Colorado’s first Asian-American theatre company is up and running! The company will be celebrating its first season of shows beginning on May 30. TEA’s opening night is already sold out, but tickets are still available for shows throughout the season. You can also participate in this month’s Asian Cabaret Event, an evening where local artists showcase their works-in-progress (see event calendar). Our spotlight features Samuel Kim, a role model and hero to students at the University of Colorado Denver. Sam has worked endless hours mentoring and supporting Asian-American youth and college students from Greeley to Denver. At the University of Colorado Boulder campus, Travis Kiatoukaysi also influences Asian-American college students in his roles as president of Asian Unity and former co-president of Hmong Student Association of Colorado. He hopes his spirit to ‘pay it forward’ will inspire those around him to lend a hand in helping others.
Lastly, thank you to those who participated in the Project Generation Connect survey, which addressed the issue of communication in Asian-American families. While there was a range of responses, the underlying theme was that dialogue in Asian homes is challenging. On Saturday, May 4, we will host a Project Generation Connect workshop, inviting parents and children (ages 12 and older) to attend. The workshop will include writing exercises, hands-on activities and fun competition. The purpose is to show how parents and children can learn from each other and interact in ways aside from verbal communication. We hope you will join us for this event! Thanks for reading,
staff & support
Publisher & Founder: Christina Yutai Guo President: Annie Guo Production Manager: Peter Bui Designer: C.G. Yao Staff Writer: Patricia Kaowthumrong Photographer: Trang Luong Intern: Akemi Tsutsui and Allison Riley
Patty Coutts, Donna LaVigne, Nestor J. Mercado, Sum C. Nguyen, Alok Sarwal, Peter Warren, John Yee, Nai-Li Yee, George N. Yoshida
Brandon Iwamoto, Jiyeah Kim, Allison Lockwood, Thoa Nguyen, Mary Jeneverre Schultz, Harrison Tu
contributing photographers Paul Docktor, Daniel Huynh, Brandon Iwamoto
on the cover
Lindsey Butler prepares for a welcome chaji, or formal tea gathering, for the new students in the Midorikai Program inside of an Urasenke practice room in Kyoto, Japan. (Photo by Brandon Iwamoto)
Annie Guo, President Asian Avenue magazine
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Asian Avenue magazine (ISSN 1932-1449) reserves all copyrights to this issue. No parts of this edition can be reproduced in any manner without written permission. The views expressed in articles are the authors’ and not necessarily those of Asian Avenue magazine. Authors may have consulting or other business relationships with the companies they discuss.
Published by Asian Avenue Magazine, Inc. P.O. Box 221748 Denver, CO 80222-1748 Tel: 303.937.6888 Fax: 303.750.8488 www.asianavenuemagazine.com
Asian Avenue magazine is in association with the Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network and www.AsiaXpress.com.
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Restaurant Peeks 18 Broomfield’s Pho Mai offers authentic Vietnamese
dishes unlike any pho restaurant in the area
Uncle experiments with culinary innovation
On the Cover
Mile High Matcha: The art of Japanese tea makes its way to Colorado
Contents April 2013
Feature 20 Project Generation Connect invites parents and
Upcoming Events 8 The Sabaki Challenge, a modern full-contact,
young people to participate in educational workshop
martial arts competition celebrates its 34th year
Spotlight 8 Samuel Kim‘s passion to work with students has
welcoming guests to taste its ever-changing menu
led to a superb career in higher eduation
On Scene Mile-high area events 22 Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation co-founders
present about the organization in Denver
Talent and philanthropy come together for one evening at KASB’s Korean Culture Night
Rising Star 9 With his unique style and charisma, Travis
Asian Performing Arts of Colorado celebrates a brilliant 25th anniversary concert
Why is anime so popular in North America? First anime summit of its kind is held in Denver
Inside Story 10 Safe, affordable housing is made available through
24 National News
the help and services of Brothers Redevelopment
Keeping it friendly on the courts in the Friendship
Kiatoukaysi, leads CU-Boulder’s Asian Unity
Theatre Espirit Asia awaits opening night, May 30
Feature 26 Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit is on display at the Denver Art Museum
28 Chinese Idiom
An environment can change a man’s character
Golden Shanghai Asian Restaurant
● The Best Chinese Restaurant by 710 AM Restaurant Show ● The Best Chinese Restaurant by the 1430 KEZW Restaurant Show ● Voted 2007 Top 100 Chinese Restaurant in the US
1412 S. Parker Rd. A-134 Denver, CO 80231 (303) 743-7666 (303)743-9079 (303)743-8210
upcomin PASCO Dragon Boat Team Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser Friday, April 12, 5pm to 9pm
Knights of Columbus Hall 13645 E. Bayaud Avenue | Aurora Cost: $10 ($5 under 10) For more info, visit www.coloradopasco.org or contact Jane Sarmiento at 720-280-5263, Mark Perez at 720-427-6782, or Matt Teves at 303-995-1410. Help us raise money for the PASCO Fighting Dragons, who will be competing at this year’s Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. Spaghetti dinner, dessert, and drink. Silent auction, door prizes, and more!
tertainment and emcee Adele Arakawa, along with raffle prizes and a silent auction. Please support the work of the Japanese American Citizens League, the oldest Asian American civil rights organization in the U.S., formed in 1929.
Asian Cabaret Events (ACE)
Friday, April 19, 7:30pm to 9:30pm
CHUN - Capitol Hill United Neighborhood Mansion 1290 Williams Street | Denver Cost: $5 For more info, visit www.theatre-esprit-asia.org or e-mail TriaXiongTEA@gmail.com. Come mingle, drink, eat and be entertained by local artists showcasing their works-in-progress. Our first ACE will be devoted to reading new original works by local playwrights. Come participate as an actor, director, or, if you don’t want to be in the spotlight, then come as an audience member.
The Sabaki Challenge
Saturday, April 20, 5:30pm to 9pm
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Colorado Annual Banquet
National Western Complex | Denver Cost: $25 & $50 Tickets Group Discounts: Buy four tickets at one time, get the fifth one free. Children 12 & under $10 For more info, visit www.sabaki.com.
Friday, April 12, Begins at 5:30pm Palace Restaurant 6265 E. Evans Avenue | Denver Cost: $75 per person For more info, visit www.apaba-colorado.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the 2013 Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Colorado banquet, there will be entertainment and dinner, as well as the presentation of the 2013 Minoru Yasui Award. All proceeds of APABA’s annual banquet benefit the Colorado Asian Pacific American Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) corporation organized in 1995 to receive and administer funds for educational and charitable purposes.
Mile High JACL Spring Luncheon
Saturday, April 13, 11:30am to 12:30pm LD Chinese Buffet | 2797 S. Parker Road | Aurora Cost: $15 For more info, visit www.milehighjacl.org or e-mail email@example.com.
This is Mile High Japanese American Citizens League’s fundraiser for its annual scholarship program and community advocacy work, with food, en-
2013 Japan Cup Competition Saturday, April 27, 8am to 4pm
University of Denver | Sturm Hall Cost: Free admission For more info, visit www.jascolorado.org or contact JASC at 303-592-5364 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the Japan America Society of Colorado (JASC) for its annual competition for Japanese language students, co-sponsored by the Colorado Language Education Association! JASC invites teams of students, 8th grade through college, to register.
Sansei Designs Show
Saturday, April 27, 10am to 4pm
Sakura Square | Downtown Denver 19th & 20th, Lawrence & Larimer Streets Cost: Free parking and admission For more info, e-mail email@example.com. The Sansei Designs Show will showcase local Japanese-American artisans. There will be unique gift ideas—great for graduations, Mother’s Day, weddings and more!
Sabaki is a Japanese word meaning channel power efficiently. It can refer to the effort of taming horse or damming a river. In martial arts it means the natural way to use an opponent’s power and momentum against him, regardless of size. For 34 years, the Sabaki Challenge has provided a place for martial artists to follow their beliefs in the hard training they endure. The event is a modern full contact stand up challenge in the tradition of timeless warrior code the whole family can enjoy.
Aurora Symphony Orchestra Wines Gone Wild Fundraiser
Saturday, May 4, 5:30pm to 8:30pm Noonan’s Tavern | Heather Ridge Country Club 13521 E. Iliff Avenue | Aurora Cost: $25 For more info, visit www.aurorasymphony.org.
Community 9Health Fair
Saturday, April 27, 7am to 12pm Aurora Central High School 11700 E. 11th Avenue | Aurora Cost: Free basic screenings For more info, visit www.9healthfair.org or e-mail Ivy9health@hotmail.com.
Be the one to own your health - and don’t forget to bring your friends and family! Basic screenings provided include: bone health, body fat, colon cancer screening, Hemoglobin A1c, oral health, gluten sensitivity screening and more! Your 9Health Fair results, along with an explanation on how to read your results, are delivered directly to you within three to six weeks of your visit. The team of volun-
teer registered nurses and physicians will contact you within 72 hours of your 9Health Fair visit.
Support the Aurora Symphony Orchestra in our most popular fundraising event. Sip and learn about fine wine with our own Sommelier during the event. Bid on both live and silent auction items including fine wines donated by local celebrities, and much more. Once again, the inimitable former state representative Debbie Stafford serves as live auctioneer!
ngevents Sat. April 20
34th annual Sabaki Tournament
On Saturday April 20th, full contact martial arts hits Denver, Colorado. The Sabaki Challenge is an open stand up martial arts event that sets the standard for bare knuckle stand up combat. Sabaki is a Japanese word meaning channel power efficiently. It can refer to the effort of taming horse or damming a river. In martial arts it means the natural way to use an opponent’s power and momentum against him, regardless of size. For 34 years, the Sabaki Challenge has provided a place for martial artists to follow their beliefs in the hard training they endure. It allows them to see something in themselves, that might have been hidden if it was just a belief alone. It is a process of self-development and evoloution; polishing oneself and techniques, finding what works and what doesn’t; realizing the real opponent is oneself. In this way, great respect is shown to the opponent each fighter faces on the mat. The event is a modern full contact stand up challenge in the tradition of timeless warrior code the whole family can enjoy. In an age of multi-million dollar contracts there are still those who push purely for the love of what they do. Twenty two men and women from around the world of all martial arts styles will be selected for this single elimination event. Three returning champions will return to contend their divisions. Fighters will gather in Denver from Chile, Poland, Germany, Canada, Peru, Japan, and the U.S. to put their beiliefs to the test in this annual event. Many of the fighters train all year for an event that supports their passion; this event is the Sabaki Challenge! Known in Japan as “karate genius” and “modern day Musashi”, the founder of the Sabaki Challenge, Joko Ninomiya left his homeland for Denver in 1977. He won karate’s most prestigious tournament in Japan, 1978. In 1988 Ninomiya developed Enshin Karate, now with 100 schools across the U.S. and abroad. Kancho Ninomiya created the Sabaki Challenge to provide fighters of all styles an opportunity to challenge themselves in a pure test of stand-up fighting skills. Don’t miss the Sabaki Challenge on April 20th at the National Western Stadium. For more information, call 303-320-7632 or visit www.sabaki.com.
asian avenue magazine
UCD team competes in the 2011 Colorado Dragon Boat Festival at Sloan’s Lake in Denver.
Patricia Kaowthumrong Asian Avenue magazine
Samuel Kim with his wife Ashleigh holds his daughter Annabelle.
Student orientation director is more than a mentor While Samuel Kim enjoyed working with his peers in student affairs during his undergraduate and graduate studies, he never thought his involvement could actually turn into a career. Now Kim is the director of new student orientation and the Lynx Center at the University of Colorado Denver (UCD). Before that, Kim served as the university’s director of Asian American student educational programs and outreach for two years. “I’ve been in higher education professionally for about seven years now. It definitely wasn’t the plan,” Kim says. “I kind of stumbled across it during grad school and fell in love with working with students and being in the educational sector. And I’m still here today.” For a long time, Kim says he was on the pre-med track and holds an undergraduate degree in biology. He decided to pursue his love for student affairs and obtained a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) in Greeley, where he went on to serve as the director of the Asian/Pacific American Student Services Office for two years. “During that time, there were a lot of adventures and challenges, but it was worth it because I had the chance to help other students, especially students that don’t have access to education,” Kim says. “I was knee deep working with students every day, making sure they got into the university and also graduated. It was a tremendous opportunity for me.” Lee Tran, a senior at UCD majoring in communications who met Kim through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, says Kim not only acted as a role model to many students, but a hero in his community. “To describe Sam as simply a mentor would be an understatement, he is much more than that. Many students who came in to see Sam saw
him as someone similar to a father figure. With that being said, Sam is also a hero to the community because he is ever vigilant in watching over the students of the community, making sure they are always on track and pushing themselves towards greatness,” Tran says. Although Kim was nominated for the Asian American Heroes of Colorado award in 2012, he is very modest about the positive effect he has on students. Kim credits his students for his progress and accomplishments. “The openness of my students and their willingness to engage in difficult conversations—to go outside of their comfort zone—really helped me develop, not just the program, but really who I am today,” says Kim. “So I would encourage that for anyone—to keep an open mind, to be compassionate, to engage with others, especially those who don’t understand.” Kim says his positions in student affairs and education have also helped him explore his own Korean-American heritage. A native of South Korea, Kim immigrated to the United States at a young age, spent a good part of his youth in southern California and has found a home in Colorado for the last 15 years. “I’ve had the opportunity to walk in both realms with my Asian side and also obviously with my American side, to balance those roles and opportunities, and to be continuously open. There’s so much going on and so much that we can capture, but if we have a closed mind, they’re just going to go by,” he says. In his spare time, Kim loves to watch movies; his all-time favorites are the “Godfather” series. He is also enjoying the “joys of parenthood” with his wife, Ashleigh, and two-year-old daughter, Annabelle.
“All I do is follow these urges,”
said Travis Kiatoukaysi, describing his passion to support communities. “I have always had an intense feeling to do more and do better for others and myself.” A business administration student at CU Boulder, Kiatoukaysi has a sincere desire to impact the lives of others in more ways than one. Kiatoukaysi, fondly known by other students as “TK”, serves as President of Asian Unity (AU) on his campus. AU is dedicated to increasing awareness of Asian cultures and helping students gain a valuable college expe-
Kiatoukaysi celebrates Hmong New Year with the Hmong Student Association of Colorado.
2012 Asian Unity fall retreat
rience through workshops, community service, networking, academic support, and other functions. Along with AU officers, Kiatoukaysi manages the organization and facilitates its events, including areas related to his field of study such as advertising and budget management. In March, AU joined seven campus organizations to host CollaborAsian, a month filled with events focused on leadership, cultural awareness, social justice, community, and scholarship fundraising for a prospective Asian American college student. According to Kiatoukaysi, overall the month was successful, mainly due to strong community support. Kiatoukaysi describes the Asian American Pacific Islander community—especially the Hmong community—as very tight. He said that groups within the community practice a ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ ethos. He said, “By supporting our events, the community knows that we will be supporting them as well. This reciprocity between the community and the organization creates the success of these events.” The APIA community’s strong presence has led to the anticipation of certain events each year. “I believe that the most anticipated events for each group that I am involved with are the culture nights or cultural shows,” said Kiatoukaysi. “All the other events are fun but the most work is put into the culture shows and I believe that is what drives everyone’s anticipation.” On campus, Kiatoukaysi has held positions
Allison Riley Asian Avenue magazine
in public relations with AU, served as copresident of the Hmong Student Association of Colorado, and adviser of the Korean American Student at Boulder. He also sat on the CollaborAsian committee, served as volunteer chair of the Collaboration of Asian American Student Leaders, and counselor coordinator of the Business Leadership Program 2013. As a first generation Hmong American, Kiatoukaysi experienced an identity crisis growing up. The Hmong people are still very new to the United States; thus a significant amount of Hmong culture is still intact. “Trying to be 100 percent Hmong or 100 percent American was definitely unattainable,” said Kiatoukaysi, who grew up in a largely Hispanic/Latino community. Kiatoukaysi’s ability to adapt comfortably with his diverse background is revealed through his connection with the Asian community and the student community overall at CU Boulder. As Kiatoukaysi continues his work, he looks forward to how ‘the domino effect’ will carry his legacy. “I don’t have to make a huge impact in everyone’s lives or have everyone remember my name,” he said, “But I want to at least make an impact in some people’s lives and have them do the same for others.”
Using the domino effect to make change Ethnicity Hmong School University of Colorado at Boulder Hometown Denver, Colorado Involvements Asian Unity, Hmong Student Association
of Colorado, Korean American Students at Boulder, Vietnamese Students Association, CollaborAsian, Collaboration of Asian American Student Leaders, Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, Hmong American Association of Colorado TRAVIS in THREE words Caring, Compassionate, Complex Hobbies/interests Dance, Art, Music, Games HIS dream job Restaurant Owner Quote HE lives by “It is not our mistakes that define who we are; it is how we recover from those mistakes.” Photo by Daniel Huynh
asian avenue magazine
Partnerships, mission and compassion
power Brothers Redevelopment
42-year-old housing nonprofit prepares for graying of America
Allison Lockwood Brothers Redevelopment
Brothers Redevelopment was ahead of its time when founded in 1971. Probably without thinking of it, founders Joe Giron, Manny Martinez, Don Schierling and Richard Magnus laid the foundation for a nonprofit housing organization that would serve the population bubble known as the baby boom. Forty years later, the oldest baby boomers are 67 and represent the start of even greater need for Brothers’ services. President Jeff Martinez said, “The No. 1 key to Brothers’ continuity and longevity has been an uncompromising focus on our mission: to provide safe, affordable, accessible housing and housing services for Colorado’s low-income, elderly and disabled residents.” In practice, that mission looks like: home repairs that improve safety and mobility – such as ramps and grab bars and bringing older homes up to code; 35 seasons of the Paint-A-Thon during which more than 6,700 homes for low-income seniors have been caulked, sealed and painted; and HUD-approved housing counseling that serves the age spectrum from first-time homebuyers to seniors exploring reverse mortgages. Brothers also manages the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure. With rare exception, these services are provided free of charge to the client. In part, the free services are made
possible by the affordable independentliving communities Brothers owns and manages. Brothers entered into the affordable-housing arena in the 1980s with Edgewater Plaza. The federallyfunded development was Brothers entry into affordable housing for low-income, seniors and persons with disabilities. Today, Brothers owns and/or manages 13 affordable communities for more than 700 residents. The rest of the equation: partnerships. From foundations to individuals, from businesses to service clubs – Brothers’ success is tied to many caring companies and like-minded agencies and individuals that support the programs. With their help, Brothers has been able to serve more than 90,000 clients over four decades. • To learn more about available services, visit www.brothersredevelopment. org. For updates, follow Brothers on Facebook and Twitter. • To seek help for yourself or a friend, call Brothers at 303-202-6340 for information on programs of interest. • To become involved, consider volunteering for the annual Paint-A-Thon. It’s a fun way to make a huge difference for a senior homeowner. • To give, you can donate through www.coloradogives.org/brothersredevelopment/overview — even choosing a program you’d like to support.
Staffers on the Brothers Redevelopment construction team work on a ramp for a senior homeowner in Edgewater.
The ramp is completed in Edgewater for the homeowner.
On Sept. 15, 2012, the volunteer team from Rocky Mountain Human Services painted the 100th home in the 2012 Brothers Redevelopment Paint-A-Thon season.
CONTACT: Allison Lockwood, Communications Manager | Brothers Redevelopment | Tel: 303-685-4227
Friendship Basketball League:
Where Sportsmanship Comes First An Interview with Loc Nguyen, Founder of Friendship Basketball League
The Friendship Basketball League is open to all individuals who want to participate and share the same vision of sportmanship.
What are the plans for the future of FBL? A: FBL would like to pursue youth teams but at the moment does not have enough funds. We are looking for sponsors and would appreciate help if anyone wants to join the FBL to make this vision a reality. We feel the league and the game of basketball has more to offer, keeping kids off the streets, teaching them the proper way to play the game, socializing skills, collaborative skills, the list can go on. We believe this will support a positive lifestyle for anyone who participates. We are creating shirts with our sponsors listed as well as a page on our website to thank those who have donated.
To learn how you can join the league, get involved or donate to the cause, visit www.fblhoops.com.
What is Friendship Basketball League (FBL)? A: The FBL began in the spring of 2011. The league was developed for “Average Shmoes” who enjoy the game of basketball. It’s a sport where people share common interests in competing, pushing the physical limits of their bodies, and seeing individual talents contribute to great team play. None of the athletes in the league play professionally and the league emphasizes sportsmanship. The league also creates a community and a sense of place for the players to network. There are currently nine teams in the league. They play a 9-week regular season and thereafter, the top 8 teams make it to the playoffs.
Loc Nguyen (right) is the commissioner and founder of Friendship Basketball League.
What has been most rewarding about starting the league? A: I have found a number of things rewarding. Several wives/fiancés/girlfriends have come up to me and thanked me for setting up this league. They have expressed to me how much of a difference it makes for their husbands that are usually at home on the couch. This league changes people’s lifestyle to become more active and healthy. We have also seen a lot of children come watch their older siblings or fathers. It’s always great to see kids participate even if it’s a spectator sport for them. I think there is a lot for them to learn still.
The teams play on Saturdays at: St. John’s Lutheran Church 700 South Franklin St. Denver, CO 80209
Do you have to be Asian-American to play? A: No, you don’t have to be Asian-American to play. The criteria is quite simple. The league is called the Friendship Basketball League meaning this is a friendly game of basketball where all the members understand the true meaning of sportsmanship. They all compete but play the game right. This not only contributes to the overall basketball environment but allows other players who want to join and kids who come watch, learn the game the right way. If a player buys into the vision of the league and fits the average mold as we define it as a group, they can join.
The league is currently looking for sponsors to help start its youth teams. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. asian avenue magazine
Theatre Esprit Asia: An Idea Overdue to Happen
Zachary Drake in original production of Dust Storm, directed by Rick Foster: TEA’s production on the story of renowned Japanese-American artist Chiura Obata and his internment experience based on true events.The three male actors and two male directors who will be bringing this beautiful story to life are some of the best talents in the theatre scene.
Tria Xiong (center) in Vintage Theatre’s 2012 production of The Joy Luck Club
Maria Cheng in Spirit & Sworded Tales: a solo play of a comedic look at a Chinese American’s spiritual journey
Co-founders of Theatre Espirit Asia: Maria Cheng (left) and Tria Xiong (right)
What is Asian American (AA) theatre? Miss Saigon, a musical written by two Frenchmen based on an Italian opera? The King & I, written by two Americans guys named Rodgers & Hammerstein? According to Maria Cheng and Tria Xiong, the founders and artistic directors of Colorado’s first AA theatre company, Theatre Esprit Asia - TEA, true AA theatre produces works predominantly written by, directed by and acted by, well, Asian Americans. Cheng says, “We want to tell modern stories, funny or serious, created by those who are living the conflicts, the struggles, the absurdities, yet informed with the wisdom of Asian heritages.” Xiong adds, “We have fantastic AA acting talent in the metro area, but they’ve been starving for meaty roles. In Colorado’s sixty plus years of professional theatre, amongst thousands of plays, we’ve had four, FOUR professionally produced AA plays!” The two met last May while acting in one of those four plays, Vintage Theatre’s The Joy Luck Club, arguably the largest AA production ever mounted in Colorado. Marveled Cheng, “Director Craig Bond found nineteen AA actors!”
“Some of them had never been on stage before, but they stepped-up to the task, not a single yellow paint on white face was necessary!” laughed Xiong. In ten months, the two founders formed a dynamic Board of Directors drawn from all the major Asian cultures. “We do have two Caucasians – they said they don’t mind being tokens!” TEA’s National Advisory Council includes movers and shakers of the national AA theatre movement who have been waiting for years for an AA theatre presence in the Southwest. TEA has also gathered a stellar ensemble of AA actors. One has won a Henry, Colorado’s equivalent of the Tony. Another is a quantum physicist by day and a thespian by night! The company has programmed three powerful and critically acclaimed plays. The co-founders say, “We can’t wait to showcase the amazing AA talent of Colorado!” TEA’s inaugural season runs May 31 to June 22 at Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St, Aurora CO 80010. For tickets, call 303-8567830. Tune in to next month’s Asian Avenue for more info on the plays or visit TEA’s website: www.theatre-esprit–asia.org.
The Art of Japanese Tea
Mile High Matcha The Art of Japanese Tea KYOTO, Japan -- It takes Lindsey Butler an hour to make a bowl of tea. Dressed in a bright blue kimono, the Colorado State University graduate slowly brushes the top of a black lacquer tea caddy with her scarlet silk cloth then, after deliberately refolding the cloth, wipes clean the tiny wooden tea scoop with it as well. Across the room sit six guests, sitting in the classic â€œseizaâ€? position with feet tucked beneath them, watching every movement Butler makes with rapt attention. The guests -- four students, a teacher and a reporter -- do not mind that it takes Butler so long to make their bowls of tea. The students are, like Butler, part of the Midorikai program at the Urasenke Center in Kyoto, Japan, a year-long scholarship program that brings foreigners to the heart of the art of Japanese tea for intensive, hands-on training. All six of them, like Butler, are dressed in full formal kimono. Butler finishes wiping the inside of the first tea bowl and begins to scoop mounds of matcha, a special powdered green tea, into the bowl, followed by a ladle of steaming water. Picking up a spindly bamboo whisk, she leans over the bowl and begins churning the powder mixture into a thin, frothy tea. The first guest stands, retrieves her bowl of tea and returns to her original position. They bow in unison as she thanks Butler for the tea. One down, five to go.
Article and photos by Brandon Iwamoto Lindsey Butler wipes a chashaku, or tea scoop, clean with her fukusa cloth during dress rehearsal for a welcome chaji, or formal tea gathering, for the new students in the Midorikai Program inside of an Urasenke practice room in Kyoto, Japan.
asian avenue magazine
n the opposite side of the world, Mike Ricci watches his students as they go through similar motions inside an intimate four-and-a-half tatami mat tea room at Naropa University in Boulder, Colo. Unlike Butler, Ricci and the students in the tiny teahouse are dressed in slacks and t-shirts, practicing the deliberate art of Chado, literally “The Way of Tea,” in the comfort of their more casual Western clothing. A practitioner of tea for 13 years, Ricci is Butler’s sensei, or teacher, in Colorado, where she first began practicing in 2007. Eleven years after leaving to attend Midorikai himself, Ricci has sent his own student to study in Kyoto for the first time in his time as a teacher of tea. Butler’s training is the next chapter in a long history of practicing the ancient Japanese art of
tea in the state of Colorado, where it is studied and taught by dozens of people ranging from first-time participants to licensed teachers. In 2001, Ricci attended Midorikai after being recommended by his sensei and former head of the Boulder Zen Center, Hobart Bell. In turn, Bell had been recommended by his teacher, Kim Thrasher. “There’s a kind of lineage, passing this tradition along from teacher to student,” Ricci said. “Lindsey represents the next generation of tea in Colorado.” The Midorikai Program, started in 1970 by Sen Genshitsu Hounsai Daisosho, the former head of the Urasenke Headquarters, is a fullride scholarship worth about $35,000 for students from around the world to live and study in Japan at the official school.
Mike Ricci places a prepared bowl of usucha, or thin tea, on the tatami mat next to him for a guest during a practice session of Chado, the art of Japanese tea at Naropa University.
Ricci was served his first bowl of tea at Naropa University in 1999, and he’s been returning the favor and teaching there for eight years. In addition to Naropa, Ricci has built a tea room and garden in the basement of his Fort Collins home, where he and a few other “tea people,” as they refer to themselves, practice. Ricci had become deeply interested in Zen Buddhism and discovered tea as a way to simply his life and focus inward to achieve some measure of peace in a fast-paced American society. After studying with Bell for two years, Ricci decided it was time to take it to the next level by applying to the Midorikai program. “I basically quit my career, sold almost everything I owned and went to Japan to study tea,” Ricci said. In the very same classrooms Butler is studying in today, Ricci dove into the unimaginably complex and intricate world of Chado. The culture of tea in Japan was a shocking difference from his studies in Colorado, where much of the practice was focused on form and the contemplative nature of tea. “I hard a hard time studying at Urasenke at first, there were things that I really struggled with,” Ricci said. “I didn’t really understand it at first, but there’s so much focus on learning the history of the utensils and be able to identify the utensils, there was emphasis on being able to recognize patterns of cloth that date back to the Ming Dynasty (in China).” Chado as it is practiced today was developed into its modern form by Japanese Tea Master Sen No Rikyu in the late-1500s. Rikyu was instrumental in simplifying tea ceremony from the expensive and aristocratic Chineseinfluenced affairs into the minimalistic, Zenlike practice it is today. Unlike many tea instructors, Ricci does not charge his students for his tutelage. Instead, he relies on donations from his students to purchase necessary materials for the practice, such as the matcha powder, the utensils and other supplies. “Everything that we put into tea in Colorado is our blood, sweat and tears, it all comes from us. Everything we do is put together with our own hands,” Butler said.
Everything that we put into tea in Colorado is our blood, sweat and tears, it all comes from us. Everything we do is put together with our own hands.”
Naropa University student Steven Johnson pours hot water over a chasen, or bamboo tea whisk, while making a bowl of thick tea during practice at the university. 14
Although they are as close as any club, the loosely bound group of Urasenke-style tea practitioners is not part of any official organization, although they are still recognized by the Urasenke Headquarters. Ricci feels that money and bureaucracy should not be an obstacle for
The Art of Japanese Tea Hmong People
Visitors to the Denver Botanic Gardens watch as Tokiyo Imanaka drinks a bowl of green tea during a Chado, the Japanese art of tea, demonstration at the Botanic Garden’s tea house. people who want to study tea. “If we keep our group open, people can come and do as much tea and learn about as much tea as they want without any requirements or obligations and in that way I believe it’s more in the spirit of tea,” Ricci said. “We have a solid group of people who love to do tea and they do tea for no other reason than to do tea. They’re not here to hang a certificate on the wall.” In places like California, Washington and Minnesota there is often a high volume of people wanting to study tea, resulting in waiting lists to join the organization and students alternating days with their sensei. In Colorado, however, there has never been a dearth nor an overabundance of people seeking to learn the way of tea. “Boulder and Fort Collins both seem like great cities to foster (tea culture), but the numbers (of practitioners) have been pretty low over the years,” Ricci said. “It’s a little surprising to me that we don’t have a bigger group, but at the same time it’s always been comfortable.” In addition to Ricci’s house, a number of other students have built tea rooms into their own homes, where they and other students meet to practice sometimes twice per week.
Learning the Way In Japan, matcha has enjoyed a longstanding popularity as flavoring for anything from shaved ice to chocolates and hard candies. Only recently has the matcha madness reached American shores, inspiring ice cream flavors, Starbucks’ Green Tea Frappuccinos and pastries. However both in Japan and in the United States, the vivid green tea is hardly ever consumed in its plain form outside of tea gatherings.
“It’s not a ceremony, it’s an event. It’s about bringing people together,” Butler said. “You’re creating a oncein-a-lifetime experience every time you make tea.” “(Chado) went from being a major part of Japanese lifestyle to becoming more of a cultural novelty,” Butler said. “People think everyone in Japan does tea, which is a total lie.” There are two basic methods of preparation for matcha within the realm of Chado. The first is “usucha,” or thin tea, which is watery with a slightly bitter flavor. The second, “koicha,” or thick tea, is used mainly in more formal tea gatherings and is a higher quality tea with a sweeter flavor. During a full formal tea gathering, known as a “chaji,” both thin and thick teas are served, in addition to a meal called kaiseki and occasionally sake as well, and can take up to four hours to perform. The abbreviated tea gathering, known as a “chakai,” can be as short as 45 minutes and only thin tea is consumed. Each type of tea, thin and thick, are accompanied by their own individual types of Japanese sweets, called “wagashi,” as a way to offset the bitter flavor of the ground-up green tea. In either case, the tea itself is a simple combination of powdered tea leaf and hot water. Chado, also called “Sado” or “Chanoyu,” is more commonly known in the Western world
as “tea ceremony,” but it is a term that is considered inaccurate among many tea practitioners. “It’s not a ceremony, it’s an event. It’s about bringing people together,” Butler said. “You’re creating a once-in-a-lifetime experience every time you make tea.” In addition to hospitality purposes, such as to welcome a visiting dignitary, gatherings are often held in recognition of seasonal events, holidays and other special occasions. Instead of the consumption of tea, Chado focuses largely on appreciating everything surrounding the tea itself, such the garden and weather outside, the flower arrangement, hanging scroll, the sound of pouring water and the whisk creating the tea. “You enter each moment as if it was a special moment,” Ricci said. A tea gathering represents a number of independent arts in a unified setting. The arts of calligraphy, flower arranging, pottery, woodworking and confectionaries are important elements of the experience. “Chanoyu is often called ‘the quintessence of Japanese culture,’” said Sen Soshitsu Zabosai, the 16th generation Iemoto, or head, of the Urasenke School in a statement in the March 2012 issue of the Urasenke Newsletter. “Alive in it are many forms of culture which have been fostered alongside peoples’ lives... hence, to come in touch with Chanoyu helps (one) to become familiar with Japanese culture and life.” The significance of every movement, from ducking to enter the tea room to the way each utensil is held by the host, cannot be understated. “Tea has a flow and a pattern to it that’s supposed to be natural, but I think it’s a harder concept for Westerners to grasp,” Butler said. Unlike in martial arts where proficiency in the art is measured through a colored belt system, Chado is ranked based on the licenses asian avenue magazine
earned by the individual host. These licenses grant the practitioner the ability to learn new procedures, which vary based on complexity, formality and other factors. “The philosophy of the practice is to start at ‘one,’ go to ‘ten’ and then come back to ‘one.’ Through that whole process you gain a deeper understanding of what ‘one’ is all about, and of what ‘ten’ is all about, and what it took to get there,” Ricci said. “They kidnap you, they blindfold you and drop you in a forest and you have to find your way,” Butler said. “They say that ‘Chado’ is the ‘Way of Tea,’ but there is no path. You make your own.” One of the biggest gaps in understanding of Chado among most Westerners is in the snail’s pace in which it takes to create a bowl of tea. “In America, we can go to Starbucks and order our tea and get it in two minutes flat. They don’t understand why we have to slow it down,” Butler said. For tea practitioners, however, time seems to lose meaning within the confines of the tea
room. One famous scroll even describes the feeling with the phrase, “Nights and days are long inside the jar.” “We could sit and have tea and spend five hours at practice and it would just fly by. It’s something you have to experience to know how it feels,” Butler said. “It’s what makes tea really unique, that you are able to create a place like that where time stands still.” Colorado Chado Practitioners of Chado have been around in Colorado for generations, possibly dating back as far as World War II, when JapaneseAmericans were sent to internments camps across the country, including one in Grenada, Colo. Green tea was grown in the camp’s farms and consumed in ceramics designed for drinking tea by the Japanese-Americans being held at Camp Amache. While there is no conclusive evidence that it was formally practiced at this particular internment camp, it was one of the cultural activities practiced at other intern-
ment camps around the country. Current day members of the Japanese tea community in Colorado represent the two main traditional schools of teaching, although there are dozens of smaller lineages in Japan. Butler, Ricci and many of Ricci’s students are members of the Urasenke lineage, while the other major school of tea in Colorado is known as Omotesenke. Unlike Urasenke, which is practiced in Colorado primarily by non-Japanese, a large portion of Omotesenke practitioners are of Japanese descent. A main reason for this demographic discrepancy owes to the fact that Urasenke’s mission includes the effort to spread the art of Japanese tea overseas to foreigners. It’s that mission that led to the creation of Urasenke’s Midorikai program. Differing stylistically from Urasenke, Omotesenke is the school of teaching that is practiced inside the tea house at the Denver Botanic Gardens’ Japanese Garden. Some of the differences between the two styles include types of
utensils, the amount that they whisk their tea and in the various small nuances of being a guest or host. Despite their differences, both schools are descended from Rikyu’s teachings and are thus practiced in the same spirit. Designed in 1971 by the late Dr. Koichi Kawana, the tea house at the Denver Botanic Gardens was built in Japan, disassembled and then shipped to Denver, where it was reassembled in its current form. The only Omotesenkestyle tea garden in the United States, according to officials at the Denver Botanic Gardens, the tea house is home to Shofu-Kai, a society of approximately 30 tea practitioners led by Tokiyo Imanaka. The tea house is a standard four-and-a-half mat (approximately 9x9 feet) room, but what makes it unique is the lack of two of the walls, where a small classroom is built around the outside. During the spring and summer, Sho-
fu-Kai hosts classes where the public can sign up and attend a demonstration, eat traditional sweets and try the tea. The goal is to help the public understand the complex and enigmatic art of Japanese tea. “Many people misunderstand ‘tea house’ because I think the naming is bad,” said Ebi Kondo, curator of the Japanese gardens at the Botanic Gardens. “’Tea house’ sounds like a cafe, so many people expect to come here and be served tea by a lady in a kimono. Our interpretation goal is to help people understand the concept of tea ceremony. Drinking tea is a very small part of tea ceremony. It’s about wellness of the mind and soul. It’s about appreciation of the season and nature.” Imanaka came to Colorado by way of Los Angeles 20 years ago and took over the adult education duties at the Botanic Gardens from her predecessor, the late-Kathryn Kawakami,
in 1995. After a brief introduction on the background of Chado and a simple demonstration, Imanaka, who began practicing tea at the age of 10 in post-war Hiroshima, calls up volunteers to try their hand at a tea gathering. Starting with sekiiri, or entering the tatami mat room, she walks the volunteers through the entire process, from bowing in front of the scroll to the procedure of drinking the tea. “It’s a very basic introduction to tea ceremony, the tea house and garden. Most people are just curious and this is just the first step, they’re not looking for an in-depth explanation,” Kondo said. At first there was some hesitation by officials at the Botanic Gardens toward making the Chado classes available to public visitors of the garden. “Tea ceremony is very complex and tradi-
Midorikai student Lindsey Butler places the hishaku, or wooden water ladle, on top of a hot water kettle during a dress rehearsal practice for a chaji tea gathering in an Urasenke practice tea room in Kyoto, Japan.
The Art of Japanese Tea Yoko Hiraoka, left, performs “sumi temae,” or charcoal lighting procedure, while Roy Bath, center left, Cloe Wright, center, and Zachary Rupp watch during a chaji tea gathering at Hiraoka’s Louisville home.
tional tea ceremony doesn’t have the concept of ‘open to the public;’ it’s a very private event,” Kondo said. “ (But) if we prefer to walk away, these people will never experience something like this. This is a very simple yet complex and meaningful cultural event and our mission is to translate that to the American public.” In Japan, practitioners of the two main lineages of Chado do not often mingle with each other, much less practice together. Colorado differs in that respect, as the community of tea practitioners is so small it breeds a kind of intimacy and familiarity between them. “It’s a lot more about feeling and community around tea ceremony (in Colorado),” Ricci said. “For a majority of the tea teachers and practitioners in this area, tea is about the spirit of community and authenticity that we can find in engaging in the practice of tea,” said T.J. DeZauche, a student of the Louisville, Colo.-
based Omotesenke teacher Yoko Hiraoka who often practices with Ricci at Naropa, where he is an adjunct faculty member as well. “There is no interest in division.” Shofu-Kai, which was originally formed in 2009 by a group of five Omotesenke teachers and their students, extended an invitation this year to Ricci, an Urasenke teacher, to participate with them. In addition to Ricci, Shofu-Kai also added Kumiko Kogashiwa, who practices Edosenke, a relatively small alternative school of tea, to their ranks as well. “We are unique in that we host events together, whereas in Japan and other places one school will host and the other is invited as a guest and they switch every year,” Imanaka said. “Shofu-Kai was founded with the mission of doing everything together.” “The true gift of doing tea in Colorado is the promotion of studying tea, regardless of
sect or branch and just focus on tea,” said Tom Chermack, a student of Ricci’s. After spending a full semester in Kyoto, Butler has learned to appreciate the environment in which she was initially introduced to tea. “I don’t really want to come back to Colorado (and leave Japan), but I really love doing tea in Colorado,” Butler said. “Tea in Colorado is so homegrown. We don’t just practice it, we cultivate it.” Locally available resources are even used to help create the Mile High experience inside of the tea room. Ricci, for example, creates utensils out of pine and aspen wood, while the Denver Botanic Gardens uses native plants to form the garden essential to creating the appropriate ambiance surrounding their tea room. “We have something really unique that says ‘yeah, we practice (Japanese) tea, but we’re Colorado, too,’” Butler said. asian avenue magazine
6765 W. 120th Ave. Suite A Broomfield, CO 80020 Tel: 303-466-6346 phomairestaurant.com
HOURS Mon - Sat: 9am to 10pm Sun: 9am to 9pm
MI XAO DON HAI SAN - Deep fried egg noodle with a combination of seafood and vegetable - $10.95
BANH CUON NHAN THIT CHA LUA - Flour sheets rolled with sauteed pork and pork meat loaf - $7.95
Tri-color Dessert - $4
Looking at the name itself—Pho Mai—you might think this is your typical pho restaurant which focuses on the very popular Vietnamese beef noodle soup, but you’d be wrong. Here, pho is just the tip of the Pho Mai’s culinary iceberg. Located in Broomfield across the street from Pacific Ocean Marketplace, Pho Mai has been opened for two years, where it was formerly Pho 120. Since then, Steven Vuong and his family have assumed ownership and completely revamped the space and the menu. Vuong and his family emigrated from Saigon seven years ago, where he worked in advertising. But after his departure, he has taken on a new career in the restaurant business. Vuong started pursuing his passion by working for other restaurants to gain knowledge and experience. His family also made for excellent resources. His older brother owned a restaurant in Vietnam and his cousin graduated from culinary school in Australia and is a top chef at a five-star restaurant there. His mother, Hong Mai Vo, who the restaurant is named after, is the head chef and the developer of most of the recipes. Traditional authentic
Vietnamese cuisine is where Pho Mai shines. Aside from the pho, which is their most popular menu item, Pho Mai has a slew of traditional dishes. Vietnamese cuisine provides a complex variety of flavors like sweet, salty, sour, and bitter, and it plays with textures by adding fresh, crisp vegetables. Case in point is the Banh Cuon Nhan Thit Cha Lua. This is where they start to get very authentic. This dish contains thin and delicate rice sheets rolled and filled with sautéed minced pork topped with fresh bean sprouts, cucumbers, fried shallots, and a side of sliced pork roll served with a sweet fish sauce. This recipe is a highly guarded one and was given to Vo by a good friend who owns a popular banh cuon restaurant in Vietnam. The banh cuon practically melts in your mouth and the vegetables provide a crisp texture with the fish sauce bringing it all together. The Salad Thit Nuong is very colorful, light and filled with fresh vegetables also served with the quintessential fish sauce. Pho Mai’s specialty rice plate, Com Tam Mai, contains many items but the standouts are the egg loaf and the perfectly cooked pork chop. There is a
lot going on in this dish and if you are indecisive this a great choice for you. The Mi Xao Don Hai San is a tremendous plate of fried egg noodles topped with tons of seafood including calamari, muscles and scallops and vegetables such as bok choy and carrots all combined to make a savory plate. Pho Mai serves other traditional soups outside of pho such as Bun Rieu. This tomatobased seafood soup is filled with vermicelli rice noodles, scrambled shrimp, crab meat, meat balls, and sliced pork rolls. These dishes only provide a glimpse of the menu that also contains vegetarian options, smoothies and even hot pot! The restaurant continues to grow, now in its third year. Vuong and his family don’t anticipate slowing down. They have big plans for the future, one of which is to add even more authentic dishes to the menu. To eat authentic food is to experience another culture, and Pho Mai is serving up platefuls of Vietnamese culture. So if you’re looking for something new or searching for a taste of home, Pho Mai is your destination.
Peter Bui Asian Avenue magazine
BUN RIEU - Vietnamese style rice noodle with scrambled shrimp and crab meat balls - $7.95 18
COM TAM MAI - Rice plate with grilled pork chop, shredded pork, fried egg, egg loaf and rice- $7.95
SALAD THIT NUONG - Pork and shrimp, sliced fresh boiled egg, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and white onion - $5.95
CHASHU RAMEN $14
Braised pork belly, bean sprouts, peas, egg
uncle 2215 W 32nd Ave. Denver, CO 80211 Tel: 303-433-3263 uncledenver.tumblr.com
Peter Bui Asian Avenue magazine
HOURS Mon - Sat: 5pm to 10pm
The word “Uncle” or “Auntie” in many Asian cultures is not only used to designate a family member but often is a name or title given to someone as a sign of respect; and you certainly have to respect what Tommy Lee is doing with his restaurant Uncle. Lee’s parents are from Hong Kong so he says he grew up in a ‘spoiled food culture’ and has always had a passion for food even at a young age. Although he was a foodie most of his life, Lee didn’t start cooking or experimenting with recipes until he was in college attending business school. And that was when he knew he wanted to open a restaurant. During his summer breaks, he worked at restaurants, including his uncle’s (no pun intended), learning the nuances of running a restaurant business. He gathered inspiration from visits to David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York. Lee envisioned opening his own version in Denver, ‘a restaurant [he] wanted to go to’ with food that he liked to eat. In August 2012, this vision came to fruition. Uncle, located in the Lower Highlands (LoHi), lives in a perfect spot for the innovative dining Lee and his chefs present. Having visited Hong Kong and observing his family cook, Lee understands that even though Asian dishes seem simple, they are intensive in preparation of the ingredients which translates to complex flavors. Ramen may seem simple, but there is so much that goes into the dish, which is why it is so highly regarded in Japan. Uncle cooks its ramen broth for up to ten hours to get the deep but light flavors. The noodles are just as important and that is why Lee has ramen noodles custom tailored by Sun Noodles. That’s right, they
have their noodles specially made to hold up and keep its al dente feel for what seems like forever and melds perfectly into the soups. The Chashu Ramen, for example, has soup flavored with soy, apple and garlic-infused lard which gives it its deep flavors. Blanketing the noodles are braised pork belly, bean sprouts, peas, and an unbelievably perfectly boiled egg. The Kimchi Ramen with its Korean flare is served with shredded pork, napa cabbage, poached egg, and topped with the house made kimchi. This spicy ramen is reminiscent to a Korean jjigae. Their most popular ramen is the Spicy Chicken Ramen that uses szchezuan spices to give the soy-based soup a miso like unctuous taste. Uncle also serves delicious steamed buns (bao) filled with ingredients like tender pork belly and tasty shrimp. The baos themselves are light and fluffy but tough enough to hold in their flavorful ingredients. Uncle’s veggie dishes are nothing to brush off either. The Fried Brussel Sprouts are crazy good. The fried vegetables are a perfect vehicle to soak up the Vietnamese dipping sauce, nuoc cham. Ingredients like vegetables are seasonal and so is the menu. Lee and his crew are always changing it up as often as every week. The drink selection is unique and the restaurant offers imported beers, like Hite (lager) and Echigo (stout) to match their menu. The ever-changing selection is what keeps patrons coming. In fact when Uncle first opened, it only had one ramen selection and now seven months later, it has four. That is what makes Uncle special. Lee and his chefs are trying to perfect what they like to cook, and that—to many, is respectable.
PORK BELLY STEAMED BUNS $7 Hoisin, cucumber, scallion
CHILLED TOFU $3
Ginger, scallion, soy vinagrette, wakame
SPICY CHICKEN RAMEN $14 Tahini, scallion, bean sprouts, egg
asian avenue magazine
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Asian Americans share what it is like communicating with their parents.
There isn’t a support system for communication, but rather a guilt system.
I have never told my parents ‘I love you’.
Chinese Female, 29
Indonesian Male, 66
I’m not always as ‘happy’ as I appear to be. I may appear like a good child, but I’m trying to battle depression.
Thai Female, 36
I know that you mean well, but you have a very poor way of showing affection.
Chinese-Malay, Female 22
It seems like nonAsian families can have more of a ‘buddy/friend’ relationship with their parents.
Korean Male, 28
My parents need to open up and enjoy the world.
My parents did not approve of my marriage to my American wife.
Vietnamese Female, 17
The respect factor prevents us from having an intellectual and meaningful conversation, thus not having a conversation at all.
Hmong Female, 28
Japanese Male, 21
Filipino Female, 40
Nepali Male, 18
Fipilino Female, 33
With a total of 80 responses, here are some of the comments from the Project Generation Connect survey.
I wish I could tell my parents, ‘our brother is gay and you have to be OK with that. He needs your love and support’.
We never apologize in my family. When we fight, we are expected to get over it without any reconciliation. Thank you both for
working so hard and opening
up this world of international opportunities for me and my brother.
Photos are of Asian-American families in Colorado.
Project Generation Connect
Questions to ask your parents
We challenge you to take time out of your day and talk to your parents. Ask them questions to get to know them better. This will begin to open up comfortable, natural dialogue. Here are some ideas! Project Generation Connect addresses an important issue in Asian-American families—the lack of communication, dialogue and understanding among generations of Asian Americans. The goal of the project is to share common barriers and challenges faced by Asian American parents and children in regards to communicating true feelings, problems, affection, etc. The project encourages both parents and children to reach out and seek support and help when needed. As Asian-American children are growing up immersed in American culture, it can be difficult for first-generation Asian parents to continue ingraining their traditional or cultural views on their children. In the month of March, a survey was conducted, asking questions about communication in Asian-American homes. With a total of 80 responses, themes included lack of affection from parents, inability to express true feelings or show failure, pressure to make parents proud, difference in cultural values, and struggles with language barriers.
1) Who is your role model? 2) What is your favorite movie? 3) Who makes you laugh? 4) What was the biggest change in your life? 5) Who do you miss? 6) If you could have any super power, what would it be? 7) If you could trade places with a famous person, who would it be? 8) If you could speak any other language fluently, what language would you speak? 9) If you had one extra hour in the day, what would you do with that time? 10) If you could only have one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
If they don’t want to answer, tell them you have to ask these questions for a project! Let me know how it goes!
Did it go well? Did your mom get annoyed? E-mail email@example.com if you gave this a try. Lets talk about it!
Generation Connect Workshop Saturday, May 4, 2013 | 1pm to 4pm
Daniels Fund | 101 Monroe St Denver, CO 80206 Cost: Free | RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, May 2.
You’re invited! This workshop is for Asian-American young people (ages 12+) and parents to
come together in writing exercises, hands-on activities and fun games to stimulate interaction and learning between generations. There is so much we can learn from each other and there are many ways we can connect! Bring your mom, bring your son! Or just bring yourself! For more information, visit www.asianavenuemagazine.com/genconnect.
asian avenue magazine
Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation visits Denver On Sunday, March 10, Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation co-founders Michael Brosowski and Chung Pham hosted a special presentation at best-selling novelist John Shors’ residence. The event was also a fundraiser where proceeds went to the foundation’s mission of helping street children escape the poverty cycle in Vietnam. Guests arrived at the beautiful home located in Lafayette, Colo. to a wonderful, warm host and an array of hors d’oeuvres. A video presentation was then given by Pham and a young adult who benefited from the program that now works for the organization as an advocate. Works of art were displayed with Shors’ books for purchase. The foundation is based in Hanoi, Vietnam where Brosowski first started as an English professor at Hanoi University back in 2002. While in Vietnam, he provided free classes to children from the streets with one of his university students, Pham. In 2003, Brosowski left the university to pursue helping street children of Vietnam full-time. By 2004, Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation was officially formed. Blue Dragon’s main mission is to eliminate child trafficking and help victims with programs that give them a new chance in life. Programs include education, stable living conditions, and credible employment. For more information or to learn how to help, please visit: www. streetkidsinvietnam.com.
Left to right:Thoa Nguyen, Michael Brosowski, John Shors and Lucy Tran
Thoa Nguyen Southwest Union of Vietnamese Student Associations
Brosowski leads a presentation about Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation.
Korean Culture Night showcases talent and philanthrophy at CU-Boulder Jiyeah Kim Korean American Students at Boulder
On Sunday, March 17, Korean American Students at Boulder (KASB) put on its yearly Korean Culture Night. This year was bigger and better than previous years. In this culture night, they provided acts such as trot, a fan dance, two modern dances, taekwondo, and a mini drama in between each act. Throughout the show, a raffle fundraiser was held for an organization called LiNK (Liberty in North Korea). The KASB officers wanted to spread awareness of this project in order to help this organization in accomplishing the rescuing of refugees, providing shelter, and also providing resettlement support for these people. Thanks to Arden Cho’s support, she donated twenty percent of the profit she made from her merchandise at the event. KASB raised over $300 for LiNK. Thanks to guest stars Arden Cho, Koo Chung, and Mike Song; there were many fans who came to see them perform live as the closing acts. A special thanks to Susie Kim, Andy Min, Jiyeah Kim, Sung Won Han, and Sean Park for planning a valuable experience for those who attended. This was a culture night to be remembered. April 2013
Asian Performing Arts of Colorado celebrates its silver anniversary with a concert to remember
Asian Performing Arts of Colorado (APAC) presented a celebratory concert on Saturday, March 16 at the Elaine Wolf Theater. The event featured a rare ensemble of Chinese opera singers as well as Western singers fluent in the traditional music of China. The event honored founding board member, Celeste Fleming and benefactors Anna and John J. Sie. Featured at the 25th anniversary concert was the celebrated bass Hao Jiang Tian. From Beijing, Tian came to America and studied at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. It was here that he became associated with Asian Performing Arts of Colorado and Tian became one of the first young artists supported by the organization. Today, he is one of the leading bass voices
in the world and is the artistic director for the pioneering program, “I Sing Beijing”. This program is the first in the world to introduce Mandarin lyric language to Western singers. The singers got to know one another during summers at “I Sing Beijing,” an annual apprenticeship program, heading into its third year. The program takes young, Western singers to Beijing for a month where they are joined by Chinese counterparts. Together they receive language and voice lessons from a team of coaches from the Central Conservatory of Beijing and The Met. On the Friday night before the concert, founders, sponsors, benefactors and committee chairs gathered at the McNichols Building for a cocktail party.
Hao Jiang Tian (left) and Baritone Yunpeng Wang (right) perform at the APAC concert. Photos by Paul Docktor
Summit answers: Why is anime so popular in North America? Brandon Iwamoto
For Asian Avenue magazine
Dr. Ian Condry, Associate Professor of Japanese Cultural Studies at MIT, presents at the “Summit on Anime in North America” on March 23.
Cultural anthropologist and associate professor of Comparative Media Studies at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Dr. Ian Condry speaks about the surprising popularity of anime, or Japanese animation, in the United States during the “Summit on Anime in North America” on Saturday, March 23 at the Denver Airport Marriott at Gateway Park. The one-day summit, sponsored by the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver and the Rocky Mountain Anime Association was billed as being the first of its kind, bringing industry professionals, professors and historians together to discuss the topic of why anime was so popular in North America. The event was sponsored by the ConsulateGeneral of Japan in Denver and Rocky Mountain Anime Association.
Panelists from left to right: Carolyn Takeshita, Rose Tanaka, Bob Fuchigami, Aiko Okubo, Min Mochizuki Photo by Joe Nguyen
asian avenue magazine
Immigration reform: Cut family visas to woo computer engineers?
awmakers of both parties have made it clear that they want to make it easier for graduates of advanced science, technology, engineering, and math programs to stay in the U.S. and for a range of foreign workers, from farm workers to computer scientists, to come here. This new guest-worker program with a potential pathway to citizenship will add hundreds of thousands of possible U.S. citizens during the next decade. What the parties still have to resolve is whether those work-based visas should come at the expense of some family-based immigration slots. The question is perhaps simpler for Democrats, who are generally more open to expanding the number of legal immigrants beyond its current level of 1 million. Republicans, meanwhile, are caught between their desire to boost employment-based visas for their backers in corporate America and their family-values platform. While some Republicans have indicated a willingness to let immigration levels move up slightly, others within the party are advocating for a decrease in the number of immigrants admitted. How lawmakers ultimately strike this balance will be a central theme in ongoing immigration reform negotiations.
sweep influential 2013 U.S. ranking The influential Consumer Reports list of top cars for 2013 unveiled on March 18. Lexus was named the top all-around brand, and the twin Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ speedsters also made the list as the best sports cars, called by the magazine ‘fun to drive, low-priced and fuel-saving’. Honda took three categories: best midsized sedan with the Accord; best minivan with the Odyssey; and best small sport utility vehicle (SUV) with the CR-V. Toyota’s Prius maintained its lock on the best electric car, and its Highlander garnered the best family SUV for the second straight year. Subaru’s all-wheel drive Impreza earned the spot for best compact car, also for a second year. Hyundai’s Elantra, at $18,445, took honors as the best budget car.
John Liu starts bid to be
New York City’s 1st Asian mayor
ity Comptroller John Liu embarked on a mayoral bid that illuminates the political rise of New York City’s Asian-American population. Already the first person of Asian descent to be elected citywide in New York, Liu, a Democrat, hopes to become its first Asian-American mayor. He said he’ll fight to bring back “the sacred promise of New York City.” Born in Taiwan, Liu moved to New York City at age 5. While New York counts 1.5 million Asian residents and the largest Chinese population outside Asia, they hadn’t enjoyed the success in electoral politics of some Asian communities on the West Coast.
Film festival opens a window to Asian American family life
AAM, the Center for Asian American Media, launched a new national home movies initiative, Memories to Light, to collect and preserve Asian American home movies. For the first meeting, CAAM will gather under one roof, as families do, to watch a special selection presented by Mark Decena. Entitled “The War Inside”, Decena will explore the historically hostile Japanese-Filipino relations. Decena was born from parents of both cultures and marched early on into the mixed race blender of Asian America. Memories to Light is a national participatory arts project that constructs shared social, cultural, and political representations of
Asian-American Kyle Larson to race in Fontana
yle Larson, a highly regarded 20-year-old rookie in the NASCAR Nationwide circuit, has everyone turning their heads on the track. The fourth generation Japanese American, whose maternal grandparents were forced into internment camps, is the only full-time Asian competing in the NASCAR circuit. He will be competing in the Nationwide circuit at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Check out the #32 car.
Pamela Chen, Asian American Gay
Judge, Appointed To Federal Bench
fter more than thirteen years with the Department of Justice, Pamela Chen has been confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York by the U.S. Senate, making her the first openly gay Asian American to be confirmed as a judge on the federal bench. Chen has served as the Chief of the Civil Rights Section of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York. The Chinese-American judge has supervised the investigation and prosecution of civil rights matters, including hate crimes, color-of-law offenses and human trafficking throughout her career.
Asian America directly from the community itself. Since the mainstream media has given so few images of the Asian American experience, home movies show the way to see how Asian grandparents, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles lived their lives. ‘The War Inside” is the first home movie collected by the project.
Videos to Watch
“More Than the Other”, a music video made by Korean-American Vincent Ryu
The Jeselnik Offensive: Which Kind of Asian Is This?
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Denver Art Museum showcases artwork from Georgia O’Keeffe
Instead of driving down to New Mexico, head over to the Denver Art Museum, located on 13th Avenue between Broadway and Bannock Streets in downtown Denver, to view the traveling exhibit titled, Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam and the Land. More than 500 examples of her works are in over 100 public collections in Asia, Europe, and North and Central America. Throughout her long career, the spare simplicity of Asian art, a mix of both abstraction and representation, and a love of open landscape would permeate and inspire her work. In 1959, Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) made her first trip to Asia to experience a world whose aesthetics had long informed her art. Lectures at universities and museums explore this side of O’Keeffe. However, the Denver Art Museum is taking the stance of Native American throughout her artwork. Featuring 53 O’Keeffe works, including 15 rarely-seen picture of different Hop katsina tihu, the exhibition chronicles her artwork created in New Mexico. In addition, the traveling exhibit explores O’Keeffe’s paintings of New Mexico’s Hispanic and Native American architecture, cultural objects and her New Mexico landscapes. The exhibit will head to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, May 17 to September 8, 2013 then to Heard Museum, September 27, 2013 to January 12, 2014. “This exhibition provides a new way to look at a very popular American artist,” said Thomas Smith, director of the Petrie Institute
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Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit ends: April 28, 2013 Admission for Colorado residents: $10 adults, $8 seniors and students Admission for non-Colorado residents: $13 adults, $10 seniors and students, $5 visitors ages 6 to 18, free for children under 6 For more information, call 720-865-5000 or visit www.denverartmuseum.org. of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum. “O’Keeffe was captivated by the cultures and colorful landscapes of New Mexico. Visitors will have the chance to experience this part of the country—its culture, people and landscape—through the eyes of the artist.” The collection shows O’Keeffe love for New Mexico through landscapes, diversity in Native American cultures and folk art. Contemporary Hopi art is also displayed throughout the exhibit. Even artists, who admired O’Keeffe, displayed their artwork at the end of the exhibit. While the New Mexico landscape remained a prominent part of O’Keeffe’s life and art, very little has been known or written about her involvement with Native American and Hispanic art and culture. A short video clip about O’Keeffe’s life is available for viewing on an ongoing loop, at the back of the exhibit. Interested in learning more about O’Keeffe and the stories behind her art, don’t forget to stop by the museum store for a variety of books, videos and posters to take home as a remembrance of the museum visit.
Georgia O’Keeffe, Chama River, Ghost Ranch, 1937. Oil on canvas; 30-1/4 x 16 in. New Mexico Museum of Art; Gift of the Estate of Georgia O’Keeffe, 1987 (1987.312.1). © New Mexico Museum of Art.
Georgia O’Keeffe, Ram’s Head, Blue Morning Glory, 1938. Oil on canvas; 20 x 30 in. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum; Gift of The Burnett Foundation. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
Georgia O’Keeffe, Rust Red Hills, 1930. Oil on canvas; 16 x 30 in. Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso University, Indiana; Sloan Fund Purchase, 62.02. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
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Sweet Orange Turns into Trifoliate Orange
hen Yan Zi came to the state of Chu as an envoy from the state of Qi, he was received by the King of Chu at a banquet. While they were drinking, two soldiers brought a tied-up criminal to the King in the hall. The King asked, “Who’s the man you’ve tied up?” “He’s a thief from the state of Qi,” replied the soldiers. The King turned to Yan Zi and said, “Why, he’s your countryman. Men in the state of Qi must all be fond of stealing!” Seeing that the King of Chu was being sarcastic. Yan Zi stood to his feet and said, “I heard that when oranges are planted south of the river, they bear sweet oranges. When they are planted north of the river, they turn into trifoliate orange trees. Although their leaves are similar, their fruit is quite different. Why is that so?” “Because water and soil on either side of the river are different. People in the state of Qi never steal. But when they come to the state of Chu, they learn to steal.” “May I ask, is this not the water and soil of the state of Chu that have turned people into thieves? - Anecdotes of Yan Zi Recorded and compiled by writers of the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.)
This Chinese idiom means that an environment may change a man’s character.
桔化為枳 jú huà wéi zhǐ
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