Pakistan: the local foodie experience

One of the perks of being shown around a new city by local friends is that you get the inside scoop on the best restaurants. They know about and will insist you try all the unique local street foods, the hottest up and coming restaurants and the most popular greasy spoons.

I was so grateful to have friends show me around in Pakistan. Between Lahore and Karachi, I tried bun kebabs, kebab wraps, pani puri, helva puri, parantha, chapathi, BBQ skewers and more!

Don’t ask me to pick a favorite food because it was all amazing and I would go back to visit Pakistan again just for the food!

I do, however, have a favorite culinary experience from my time there. Amongst much hype, my friends took me to Baking Virsa in Lahore. This place can hardly be called a restaurant – it’s really more of a street side kitchen. The bare bones kitchen is in a roadside shop about the size of a one car garage where you sit on a bench in front of the special oven and beside the tap in the wall. This is all part of the charm and you will be so happy you came as the food is amazing.

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Kitchen and lamb chop at Baking Virsa

We had pre-ordered lamb chops, kebab skewers, half chickens and butter naan. After getting settled on the long bench each with a plastic stool for a table, we watched the meat courses come straight out of the oven one by one to be served up fresh and hot on our plates. The meat was deliciously spiced and tender and each piece was more succulent than the last. The naan was cooked last and it was my favorite dish: it had a crisp buttery crust and the middle was moist and flaky like my Mom’s tea biscuits. I will be dreaming about that naan for a while.

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The naan at Baking Virsa

Now that I’ve dazzled you with my mouth-watering descriptions – and no, I’m not exaggerating – you’ll want to know how to find the place. This is the tricky part. You will find no sign on the shop front and no ad in the paper. The only way to eat here is by calling the chef himself for directions and to make a reservation complete with pre-order and cash down payment! The shop can only seat three to four people comfortably and the chef only offers two seatings a night. Don’t even think of showing up late! We were warned that if we arrived late, he would be gone and our food would be cooked but not available to us.

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Baking Virsa chef making naan

Is all that hassle worth it? Yes! The food was delicious and the experience was second to none. It’s the kind of place you would see chefs rave about on travel shows.

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Chatting with the Baking Virsa chefs

For those of you living in or visiting Lahore – happy hunting!

Have you eaten here? Let me know how you liked it in the comments below.

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