Rola Wala, a small London chain of Indian street food stands, has opened a new outpost in Oxford. The stall is part of the Westgate Social food court, a collection of fast food places in the basement of the new Westgate shopping centre. The concept is that you choose a base (sourdough naan wrap, red rice or cauliflower “rice”) and then a curry to go on top from a selection of 6. Your meal is then topped with salads and a choice of a wide array of chutneys.
The food was great - earthy curries with lovely zingy dressings and salad dressings. It’s the kind of thing I would be happy with at a much more formal place and a higher price point. The naan wrap with sweet potato saagwala and paneer was my favourite - moreish and satisfying, though pretty messy to eat - this really isn’t date food. There are a really wide array of toppings, all obviously lovingly developed and bright and interesting in taste. Everything felt very well balanced - sweetness, bitterness, sharpness and spice nicely blending together over a range of dishes.
Rola Wala struck me as outstandingly good value for money. The quality of the ingredients seemed very high, the portions were decent and though the service was fast there was genuine attention to detail there. Considering you can get dinner for £6 here, that’s extremely impressive.
Rola Wala is a particularly good option for people with dietary requirements. Unlike most of the Westgate Social’s offerings, which seem quite meat-and-bread based, there was a wide range of food available meat and gluten free - in fact, the night I went, over half the menu being served was vegan. The staff seemed very aware of allergies and preferences, and double checked that I was vegetarian and not vegan when offering sauces and extras.
I was also struck by how healthy and wholesome everything I tried was. Everything I tried was vegetarian, and they resisted the obvious impulse to up the flavour with loads of oil and salt. The meat looked lean and everything except the naan looked like something I would cook myself as a “healthy option”. They will guarantee that anything you have on a cauliflower rice base comes in under 500 calories. It’s particularly nice to see cauliflower rice being offered as a base because it’s so tedious to make yourself.
The only negative element was due to atmosphere, and it really doesn’t feel fair to dwell on that too much as it’s not Rola Wala’s fault. I don’t really like the Westgate Social space and it seemed a bit chilly and empty when I was there. This might well change over time, and the food works well as takeaway if it doesn’t.
All in all, this is a really lovely option for a quick, healthy and vegan-friendly meal in the centre of town.