Balance Pan Asian Grille is regarded among Toledo area foodies as a hot spot for Chinese food. Think creativity and taste on par with PF Chang’s in half the time and price. Balance is best known for their bowls, such as the uniquely named Nuts 4 Pao Bowl or the Sassy Me Bowl featuring ingredients like scallions, bean sprouts, Fresno chilies or kale with a choice of protein – tofu, chicken, or beef. Every vegetable on the plate is crisp and fresh. The meat is wok-fried and smoky. Most impressive is the lack of MSG in any of the food Balance serves. There’s no reasonable comparison to the likes of Magic Wok.
I recently posted on Facebook that Balance’s newest creation, a Korean BBQ taco, reminded me of Korea in a tortilla. Beautifully seared steak topped with kim chi and a sauce so divine I would have used whatever I had left as an attempt for a marinade. Owner/operator Chef CJ replied online that he would give me enough, as I imagined, to marinate a one pound serving of beef. He would fill up a 2 pound container of his signature Korean bbq sauce. So began a cleansing of my freezer.
I defrosted New York Strip steak, flank steak, and chicken breast, anything I had been hoarding to avoid cooking a standard uninspiring meal. I cut the meat into quarter inch length wise pieces, and then let the marinade sit for 15 hours.
The Korean food I knew growing up was always best on a stick. I loved the way the beef stuck to the skewer as I would gnaw and gnaw until the meat residue dissipated. A Korean bbq restaurant in San Jose, CA offered thin slices of raw beef buffet style. At our seats, a flaming grill for cooking with a spray bottle filled with water to smoke out flames.
I let the skewers sear on the grill for seven minutes before flipping. I craved a firm yet soft texture, a slight char and smokiness. Here’s the color I sought and achieved (two on the right) by NOT flipping prematurely.
There’s a genre in food lingo called “comfort food.” Food that reminds one of comfort, food that inspires one’s past. And Balance’s Korean bbq taco does that for me. Their marinade is in my head. Everything I’ve eaten since has that afternote.
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