Fresh food from India -- literally
Many student groups at MIT enjoy an annual trek up north to Talbot House in Vermont for a weekend of rest, relaxation and perhaps even good food. The surrounding area offers a great variety of options for the hungry student group, but as The Tech learned this past Saturday, you can’t trust every cheap Indian restaurant in the middle of nowhere.
Our search for a dining location began at 6 p.m. with a drive through lovely Woodstock, Vermont. After leaving Woodstock for the majesty of West Lebanon, New Hampshire, almost an hour and a half later we converged upon Royal India, reminiscent of the Central Square Indian places we have grown to love. The Christmas lights in the window immediately transported us to the subcontinent, as we rested in the plush seats and anticipated a quick tasty traditional Indian meal.
Boy were we wrong.
A few members of our group decided to pass the time as we waited for our food with a strategy that we now recommend to every student group that decides to eat at the fancy Royal India. After placing your order, we reccommend that you get up, put your coat on, walk across the street to the local Friendly’s and eat dinner. Now, this may seem like an odd way to pass time while waiting to be served at a restaurant, but believe us: it works! And Royal India is so in touch with customer needs that you don’t even have to worry about missing your meal. It will be there when you return. Maybe.
Now, the weak and tired of the bunch may not be up to walking across the street. Especially after a day of skiing in Killington, Vermont. For this select group, The Tech recommends another strategy. Enter the restaurant with half your group and place your order. Have the other half of the group enter a half hour later. Have them order what you really want to eat. It will arrive, without fail, hours before your food is even killed. Being the skilled investigative journalist team that we are, The Tech spent the night confirming this theory many times.
Although it’s perfectly acceptable to take a nap as your food is prepared (there will surely be time), be sure to wake up when your food is served. You will learn that Royal India has perfected a complex algorithm for serving food. The Tech has not managed to understand the basis for this algorithm, but we will present it to the MIT community, as this is probably the only place in the world where such an algorithm can be derived. And more importantly, successfully implemented.
First, take customer orders. Next, toss them up in the air. This may lose some of them, but by the time they get their food, they wont remember. By losing a couple orders you will dramatically increase your efficiency. The tossing action also allows you to sufficiently randomize the orders to guarantee that just because a customer may have placed an order far in advance of another, they are not guaranteed to get their food first. Then, serve food at the rate of one item per 15 minutes. Spread it out so that every member of every table has the opportunity to smell every dish that you offer, in hopes that they will change their mind and walk out of the restaurant (which will, again, increase your efficiency). If a table has a greater women-men ratio, it must be served first. You may notice that chicken pakora can act as the rate limiting step, but disregard this. It only decreases your efficiency. And at Royal India, efficiency is everything.
If you understand that food serving algorithm, you may be able to maximize your enjoyment of Royal India’s food. A couple members of our group suggest another way to maximize enjoyment at Royal India. Step One: Wake up at 5 a.m. Eat a croissant. Step Two: Don’t eat a damn thing for the rest of the day, but instead spend the day skiing at the Killington Ski Resort. Step Three: Drive to Royal India, after first confirming that every other restaurant in the neighborhood is full. Step Four: Eat Royal Indian food. Feel like a King. Burger King, that is, because you will still be hungry.
The food at Royal India comes close to authentic Indian cuisine. In an apparent effort to demonstrate that they travel all the way to India to produce your meal, the food arrives cold, partially eaten and without utensils. One Tech staffer described the chicken as “gritty, with insane spices.” Tests also revealed that a Frosty from the nearby Wendy’s can effectively reduce chicken-induced swelling of the mouth and throat. As a true tourist of India, you must start conserving water as soon as you arrive, because water stops flowing at 7:30 p.m., regardless of whether or not your food has arrived. And of course, they wont tell you this.
If your meal is not sufficient, do not hesitate to get up and help yourself to the unfinished portions of another table’s meal. I did. This is a form of survival at the Royal India. Just be sure not to yell “Hey Josh, the good stuff’s down here, baby” across the restaurant unless you are prepared to face the wrath of the one Indian man that works at the Royal India. This wrath may also be encountered if you proceed to convince entering couples from eating at this restaurant. The Tech decided to endure this wrath as a gesture of goodwill, and spent part of our waiting period warning others from entering the restaurant.
One final jewel of the Royal India is that there’s no need to bring gum: every table offers a complimentary piece for each patron. You’ll have to check underneath to locate it. If you need to spit it out, feel free to use the restrooms, because that’s about all you can do back there. Royal India has a strict policy against toilet paper, working flushes, hot water and paper towels. It’s all about efficiency, baby.
Now, The Tech would never find it sufficient to just complain about a problem involving poor dining service without offering a substantial solution. We noticed that the real problem with the restaurant was that it simply could not handle a situation where all of its tables were filled. Also, as we waited for our food, Royal India did their best to keep us from falling asleep with their ear piercing selection of Indian music hits. Our solution? A dance floor. Royal India should remove the tables in the center of the restaurant and make way for a hip new exciting dance floor. They can also remove the kitchen since they obviously don’t use it. Everyone who’s anyone in West Lebanon would flock to Royal India. But, they wouldn’t be there to eat; they’d arrive to dance! Then the Royal India chef can go back to doing what he does best: sleep.
Tipping is not necessary and offering a 0 percent tip will more than compensate for the service provided by Mr. Royal India. Whatever you offer, he will be sure to yell as you run out the door: “Thank You. Come Again.” We don’t think so.
Josh Bittker, Ágnes BorszÉki, Annie Choi, GÁbor CsÁnyi, Aaron Isaksen, Greg Kuhnen, Kevin Lang, Garry Maskaly, Karlene Rosera and Shantonu Sen contributed to the reporting of this story.