BELLEVUE, Wash. — At bus stop 68594 in Bellevue, you get the sense some things are just meant to be.
Parked in the lot right behind the stop is a colorful food truck called Lari Adda.
"'Lari Adda’ means bus stop or truck stop,” said Sheraz Malik, who owns the business with Saira Bano.
They didn’t plan the literal proximity, in the same way they never planned on running a restaurant on wheels. They were simply two friends and foodies who loved cooking the kind of food they grew up eating in Pakistan.
"A majority of our friends would say, 'You should have a restaurant or you should have a food outlet, because you cook well,'” Malik said.
“And we never took them seriously,” Bano added.
Then, the pandemic hit, a truck went on the market, and they took a leap of faith.
Within two months of serving Pakistani street food, they were named one of Seattle’s 10 best food trucks by a local publication.
"It's our baby," Bano said. "It's a well-behaved baby."
It also fills a longtime void in the local food scene, according to regular customer Asad Faizi.
"I think too regular,” he said, laughing. "It was like love at first bite when we came here and ate it and said, 'This is exactly what's been missing.'"
The menu blends regional influences — Bano is from Karachi, Malik is from Lahore.
"The food scene is very different. They're hardcore meat-eaters,” Bano said. “So are we, but we still give respect to the vegetables. They would only eat it when they're sick.”
Best-sellers include the beef bahari rolls, crispy chicken burger that packs a punch of heat, and samosa chaat.
Customers also rave about the chai — but just don't order "chai tea."
"Every time someone comes we tell them, 'You're asking for two cups of tea, because chai means tea,’” Bano said, laughing.
For Malik, introducing people to a new flavor profile and cuisine is part of the joy.
"We do get a lot of customers who are not from South Asia and they get to try some things, they ask questions, I think that's part of our goal — to kind of introduce those flavors, which area they're from in Pakistan, so to get to know the country as a whole as well,” he said.
Both owners still maintain their day jobs and operate Lari Adda after hours. But for them, food isn't work — it's love.
"Working 9-5 was fun, it still is. But we come here after work and we cook and we do this and we go home late. Every day, we still look forward to it,” Malik said.
Lari Adda is located at 1624 145th Pl. S.E. in Bellevue and is open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday. Brunch is also available on Saturdays.
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