Fresh + Fast + Hip = Balance

. May 1, 2014.
Balance-Fall-TCP-HR-8

I’m hooked. I’ve BEEN hooked. But now my children are hooked, too. There is just something about Balance Pan-Asian Grille. Actually, there are A LOT of somethings about Balance and that’s why we love it.

Fast, casual and fresh

A little over a year ago, my husband and I were a bit curious about the newer restaurant on the scene and stopped into Balance Pan-Asian Grille on Central Avenue. We were fast fans. I recently visited the restaurant in Maumee off Dussel, which opened in 2010. Interestingly enough, the co-owners, Prakash Karamchandani (PK) and Ho Chan (CJ) Jang met in college and neither have a culinary background. However, their Indian and Korean backgrounds, travel experiences, and creative ability to fuse all things Asian have proven to be a recipe for success in this fast casual restaurant.

The restaurants are bright with a minimalist  and contemporary feel. The Indie music gives it a fun, upbeat vibe. Many people place carry out orders, but there is always plenty of seating for those who prefer to eat in. The menu maintains year round staples and an entire seasonal menu is changed over every equinox according to co-owner Karamchandani.

The concept is simple, yet the first time I stopped in I had a little studying to do. The friendly staff is always more than happy to answer your questions and offer suggestions.

They had me at the sauce

The menu offers a variety of “snacks” in the three and four dollar range such as pork dumplings and creamy wontons. The mainstay of their menu is their “bowls.”

“There is a huge misconception when it comes to Asian food, some think that it’s all unhealthy,” said Karamchandani. He acknowledges that many people envision deep fried, heavy sauces and buffets. He said outside of America, Asian food is in fact made fresh daily, using all fresh ingredients, and is very “balanced” meal with a vegetable, starch, and protein.

The variety of bowls start with fresh combinations of vegetables, then you choose your protein such as grilled or breaded chicken, golden tofu, or wok fried steak. You also select your starch; brown rice, wheat noodles or fried rice. Each bowl comes with a special sauce that is made from scratch daily in house. The sauces are FABULOUS and served on the side so you can add as much or as little as you like.

I was confident my daughter would find a bowl she liked for $7, but I was at a loss on what to order my younger two as Balance does not provide a kids’ menu.  The counter help was quick to offer a couple suggestions. For $5, you can purchase a protein and starch of their choice, and the Sassy Me sauce is tangy, yet mild enough for your little one. My sons both selected the grilled chicken and one had fried rice and the other wheat noodles. The portions were generous and they loved the sauce.

My daughter devoured the seasonal Bangin’ noodles complete with yet another unique sauce. My friend enjoyed the Nuts4Pao which was on the spicier side, and I couldn’t resist the Thai Guy with a flavorful peanut sauce. Did I mention their sauces are pure deliciousness?

I think I did. For summer they have also added a variety of tacos along with a couple new bowls. The cilantro sauce with the Lean Green is out of this world. (Yes, I had to return to try the summer menu after our family visit.)

Drinks are offered by the can and bottle, but organic milk can be purchased at the tea bar, and complimentary cups of filtered water are also available. My daughter tried the bubble tea, but according to PK, kids love the colorful, fun fruit teas. They include fruit pearls that pop when they come up through the straw. It sounds intriguing, so we may try some on our next trip.

Bottom Line: Don’t let the lack of a traditional kids’ menu deter you from stopping in with the family. Balance offers tasty, healthy choices that will please even the youngest palates. And I bet your youngster can’t resist the giant paw-sized dessert wonton filled with chopped pecans, fresh bananas, and Nutella® on the side; fittingly named Monkey Business.

Balance Pan-Asian Grille
5860 Central Ave. Toledo 43615
419-578-7777
Daily 11am-9pm

514 The Boulevard Maumee 43537
419-893-9999
Mon-Sat: 11am-9pm
www.Balancegrille.com

Karen Zickes is a mom of three active children and freelance writer who resides in Holland, OH. She can be reached in c/o editor@toledoparent.com