Ping! my inbox dinged inviting me to check out a new joint sending an exciting tingle down my back. Rola Wala is not a joint I had heard of before, quickly googled and saw what’s what! To say I was definitely intrigued by the name would be an understatement. The name does leave you tongue-tied, as the staff member nicely put it “we love to rhyme“. Rola Wala in Hindi means ‘The man that rolls‘, yes it’s quit something isn’t it.
But you haven’t heard nothing yet.
With the interview organised by the PR company I headed for the new Oxford shopping centre Westgate. Made my way down the escalators to level -1 to the social area all fast food joints are located. Rola Wala is the first eatery you see on your left with red illuminating and inviting signs. I made sure not to make myself known so I could observe how the whole process works. For me it’s important to see how the staff interact with everyday customers and not bloggers. To my delight Miguel one of the staff on the forefront had a huge smile for every customer. He and his colleagues happily took the time to explain the entire ordering process and the menu. He answered questions regardless of whether it was a buying customer or an observer.
We’ve all been customers of fast food joints either in the streets or brick and mortar builds. And we can all attest to not always having the best experiences at some joints. What I felt Rola Wala gave more than other joints was their time, no one was rushed or felt unheard. Each customer was treated with respect and when I introduced myself I received a warm welcome from the staff. I was offered the Mango & Tumeric Soda to keep me company whilst I waited to interview Danny.
Rola Wala has definitely brought a different atmosphere to fast food business plus their meals are 500 calories or less; unless you add extras.
As British people we have a certain perception about Indian foods and often its ‘spicy and hot’. We never simply say whether it is healthy or not and our favourite dish is always a curry. Rola Wala having this foresight wanted to create a meal that everyone can enjoy for different taste buds. I know personally I can’t handle really hot and spicy dishes but can manage mild dishes. The Rola Wala menu has been designed to suit even the pickiest of eaters and loaded with vegan options. Our recent review ‘Twisted Indian Street Food‘ covered our initial thoughts and ordering process.
Danny V is a very busy man but it was good to catch him in action as he worked with the staff. With a background as a chef, he knew everything that has gone into each dish served at Rola Wala. The interview was unstructured as I wanted it to be led by Danny not rehearsed answers. With that established, Danny started off and informed me he would do this in two parts. The history of Rola Wala and the current menu then us tasting the food and talk about the chutneys.
It all started a few years ago when Mark and Danny were meant to travel to India together with their then girlfriends. Things didn’t go to plan and Mark went without Danny who went somewhere else. It was during Mark’s visit to India that he became enchanted with the spices in Indian foods. Mark wanted something balanced, super healthy and was very tasty as well. As Brits, our perception of Indian food is based around our local Indian takeaways of curries and chutneys.
Upon Mark’s return from India he started messing about with ideas in his street store during his spare time. He got Danny involved whose a chef to launch his idea of bring it to life, everything as they say is history. It’s been 4 years since they first launched the Leeds branch, quickly followed by the London branch. November 2017 they launched the Oxford branch in the ever glamorous Oxford Westgate shopping centre.
A. No, London is where the street store started but an opportunity arose in Leeds first to-do a pop-up store. The pop-up was the most successful the Leeds mall had ever had and offered Rola Wala a deal.
It was a deal they couldn’t refuse, to be a permanent feature in the Leeds Mall and it has been successful. It was a great opportunity for Rola Wala to understand how to run a business in a retail environment. As Danny put’s it, ‘its different from a spoon & a pot in a market to the mall. They spent a year figuring it all out, mistakes were made which they learnt from.
Comment. Obviously as you start out, mistakes will be made but it’s what you do with them that matters.
A. Yes, exactly and we took it forward, learned from it and came back to London to re-pitch an idea. And luckily an opportunity came up in Liverpool street which we took and opened up. Before long the second brand was opened, immediately after another opportunity came about,Oxford.
The menu can be found HERE, rated as 5* by ZAGAT!!!
Naan rolls and grain bowls, offer an incredible combination of spice fueled flavours discovered on the streets of India. The menu has been revamped, taking into account all the tips picked up at the two branches. Danny explained each stage of the ordering process as stipulated on the menu.
- The menu is split into three parts; Base – Protein – Chutneys
- Base is further split into three parts; Sourdough Naan Roll, Red Rice Bowl and Cauli-Rice Bowl.
- Protein has several options including; Red Channa Dal, Keralan Chickpea and Bengali Spiced Beef.
- Chutneys also come in three variations; mild, medium and hot including Scorpion hot.
The Sourdough naan bread is the first of its kind, you will remember we tried Franco Manca‘s sourdough pizza. There is an incredible difference between the naan bread and the pizza but both taste great and are healthier. Rola Wala has brought out a very light, airy and great textured sourdough naan bread. It is made with all natural preservatives free of cultured naan.
The aim for Rola Wala is to provide super healthy and tasty meal to match every palate.
With the red rice bowl contains imported rice from Sri Lanka which has 75% extra fiber than any other rice. As for the carb cauli-bowl, the cauliflower is shred by the team and is made on the day. Kale, mustard seeds and turmeric which brings out the bitterness of the mustard seeds. Anything added to this bowl is under 500 calories even adding beef or chicken.
Lemon yoghurt base is added to all the meals, to activate the spices but leave it super healthy. The beef is trimmed of all the fat and the chicken is marinated for 24 hours and the majority of the menu is vegan. Each single meal combination is made to meet the customer’s needs. Rola Wala also makes their own dessert; Chai Caramel Ice Cream in a deep vanilla pod. The drinks on the menu are those that can be paired with every meal served.
We had such an incredible time chatting with Danny and his staff and learning about Rola Wala. They has amazing plans in the works which we can not wait to see come to life. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors and wish them every success!!
Disclosure: We were guests of Rola Wala, all opinions expressed are our own!!