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Over the course of my two+ months in Mysore I ate many, many restaurant meals and overall my favourite place for a meal was the Hotel RRR restaurant. There are likely people who have seen the place up close and would think I am quite mad. It is basically a large, rustic (IE a little dirty) canteen and during the lunch rush it is very chaotic to say the least , often so full to the brim that it is difficult to even walk into the place. I believe the fact it gets so packed out, mostly with locals, speaks volumes. If there is only one or two in your party you can usually get empty seats at a table with other people fairly quickly. Sitting with strangers is the norm here at busy times. With a 3 or 4 people you will likely have to wait awhile longer. And I am not talking about an orderly wait with a maitre d’ finally showing you to your seats. You are best to stake out a table that you think will be done soon and lurk over it. I have said it before, Indians don’t follow the concept of a queue so once that chair is free you may have to go for it with your elbows up high. It’s kind of like musical chairs. I remember one magical visit when the place was heaving with people, dining and waiting. I was on my own and staked out a key junction in the walkways. It seems just as I took my point position a waiter was making up a single setting. He looked up at me and waved me in!! The waiters and busboys have a tough time of it when the walkways are so clogged but this guy was incredible. He seemed to have a sixth sense as to when I wanted something and I would see him peaking around people at me, we would exchange some sign language and moments later I would have what I wanted. I enjoy the chaos here. There is a sedate, AC dining room in the back but I found it quite boring to eat there.
Forgive me, I haven’t even mentioned the glorious food yet! The first thing about the food that grabs your attention is that it is served on banana leaves. After watching the locals a couple of times I learned how to give the leaves a quick clean up with a sprinkle of water before using them. I almost always went for the biryani, either mutton or chicken or most often both 🙂 Biryani is a one-dish meal with rice and meat or veg cooked with many aromatic spices. It is very flavourful and I would often be chewing and come across a pod of cardamom, a star anise, a hunk of cinnamon stick, etc. Gorgeous. Not very yogic of me eating the flesh and all I know, but it was the only way I could suppress this feeling of starvation the vegetarian diet brings out in me. The biryani comes stacked up high on this wee plate and you put a handful or two at a time on to the banana leaf to eat. The condiments that come with the biryani are an onion raita(yogurt sauce) and dahl(lentil) gravy which go wonderfully well with it The flavour is such a nice departure from the Mysore mainstay; curry, curry and more curry. I am not a big fan of eating with my hand but here I felt compelled to plunge my hand into this lovely food with gusto. The all-you-can-eat veg thali is good too but when it is super busy you may be waiting awhile for refills.
So if you fancy a fun Indian eating experience in a place with great atmosphere and yummy food Hotel RRR is the place.