“Mast ek chicken fried rice maro!” a cry rent the air, yelled inches from my face by a waiter, the back of whose dark red uniform shirt proclaimed ‘Prince Restaurant’ in embroidered yellow letters, and whose uniform began and ended with that shirt. Of the dazzling, multicolor, psychedelic track pants he wore, the less said the better.
I had just finished my chicken shawarma, and was asking for a second cup of tea when he suddenly realized he still had not communicated someone else’s order to the open kitchen in front. Without missing a beat, he turned around, yelled out the order, and turned to me and asked, “Aur ek chai hona?”
Prince is not a restaurant for the faint-hearted non-Hyderabadi. But if you are indulgent of the Hyderabadis and their eccentricities, it is a place to taste the wonderful food that fuels the hallu life of the Old City. It has very functional decor – steel benches you share with up to two strangers, at tables for six and a giant menu affixed to the wall. A chest high partition reluctantly declares a couple of tables a “Family Section” – if you are female, you will be ushered into this space post haste.
One must order chai. In fact, one must take one’s friend, so that one can order one-by-two chai, which is how the Hyderabadi consumes chai. Even if they are going to drink one chai each, they will order a one-by-two, finish it, and then order another one-by-two. The chai is Irani, and is served in thick white cups and saucers that seem to have been around since Qutub Quli Shah made eyes at Bhagmati. Of course, given the age, they are a bit cracked and chipped, but the boldly printed PRINCE on it is assurance enough that it contains hot tasty chai. For those unacquainted with Irani chai, the Hyderabadi version is strong, strongly milky and has enough sugar to give your great grandchildren diabetes. I had two of these – it is reasonably safe to assume I have passed on some diabetes to you because you are reading this!
This is definitely one of the most tasty shawarmas I have had. I prefer eating it as a roll, rather than deconstructed – it keeps the sauces in check and makes each mouthful more full of flavor. The chicken is well-marinated and cooked, the veggies fresh enough to be crunchy, and the sauces well-balanced. Overall, it is a must-have, though keep in mind it’s available only in the evenings.
Apart from these, you have an extensive menu that covers a bunch of Hyderabadi and Indian Chinese choices.
Once you are done dining, there is no such thing as a bill. Your waiter will verbally inform you of the total, and you give him cash – no other form of payment is recognized or accepted. Once you give him a note, he will draw out the biggest wad of notes you have seen from his special money pocket, and give you exact change. This is where you have to be careful, as the waiters are not really well-versed in such arcana as subtraction, and your change might not match what you are actually owed. To be honest, I have received both less and more money, so I will not impugn their characters, just their mathematical ability, and chalk it up as one more proof of Hanlon’s Razor.
Go to Prince after you have visited Golconda – you are sure to have a cultural experience that rivals the historical and architectural experience you had inside the fort.