Saturday, May 18, 2024

Balancing Act

When Prakash Karamchandani took the floor at last month’s Toledo iteration of TEDx, he was one of the event’s most controversial speakers.

His opening line?

“I’m from Balance—we’re the caterers,” he told the crowd of tech entrepreneurs, ad agency designers, philanthropists and engineers. “And we brought fast food.”

Karamchandani and his business partner, Hochan Jang, co-own Balance Pan-Asian Grille, a growing restaurant group that emphasizes woks over microwaves. While fast food has become something of a dirty word among the young and engaged crowds that frequent TEDx conferences, the owners of Balance, University of Toledo grads, are gearing up to debut a new fall menu and to unveil a snack line that aims to turn the idea of pre-packaged, pre-fab food on its head.

Fast but healthy

“Fast food is a market driven force. People want food fast, to go,” Karamchandani says. “[But] fast and healthy don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can have both. It just takes a different way of looking at it.”

The Balance fall menu and snack line debuted Monday, October 21 at their Maumee and Sylvania locations and features soups and noodle dishes that reflect the shift in season, as well as their tongue-in-cheek humor (one new dish is called “miso hardy”). The more hearty items include a butternut squash soup and cold soba noodle salad. Singapore Noodles, another potential standout, play up what they say is a more intensely Indo-Chinese direction for their cuisine, with yellow curry sauteed into egg and rice noodles that’s “got a great chewy texture to it,” Karamchandani says.

They’re also venturing into new territory with a pre-packed snack line that will come wrapped in recyclable, compostable materials. Ingredients are sourced locally where feasible, like kale for kale chips from Ohlman Farm on Hill Ave and certain fruits in a nut and dried fruit mix. The products will be sold at Balance restaurants as well as Health Foods by Claudia on Secor Rd. Karmachandani is hoping for distribution in additional local markets as well.

Concept of change

The two say they cull many of their ideas from their customers via social media. “We ask for [customer feedback] actively,” Karamchandani says. “The whole concept of Balance is to constantly be changing, because food is always changing.”

Though more additions to the restaurant are planned, Karamchandani is remaining tight-lipped. He will, however, elaborate on his most recent victories. “To get invited to cater TEDx was one of the top five biggest honors I’ve ever received at Balance,” he says. “To be of that caliber for people who understand what we’re trying to do [is great].”

For information on locations and hours, visit balancegrille.com.
5860 W. Central Ave., Toledo. 419-578-7777. 514 The Blvd., Maumee.419-893-9999.

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