Indian Street Food is having quite the moment around Birmingham, and I seem to have eaten rather a lot of it lately, which is more than ok by me. The newest addition is Rola Wala, which has taken up residence in Selfridges food hall. Inspired by the founders travels in India, Rola Wala now has locations in four cities.
Birmingham’s branch is located in the Selfridge’s food hall, and is classic cool, with lots of metal and neon lights. There’s lots of tables, geared up for busy Bullring lunchtimes, and space to sit at the bar. One side is open to the main food hall, so think casual vibes rather than intimate dining.
The menu is simple, with a few soft drinks, and some Indian soft variants (bottomless Masala Chai, Mango and Turmeric Soda, etc.), and a good list of craft beers, which as they were listed on a separate menu, I assume will change. I would have liked to see some Indian beers on offer, but unfortunately, it was the standard trendy ones on offer, and one IPA from Brewdog. I went for a Caple Road Cider (£4.50), which was ice cold and refreshing. The beers are the same price, which is pretty reasonable for those popular brands.
The important bit here is obviously the food. First, you choose between a Naan or a Spice Bowl. Our waitress explained that both options are actually 500 calories, which is a surprise with stodge like rice and naans. If you don’t double up on filling, they achieve this by using sourdough rather than a traditional naan and red rice. Bonus if you’re craving Indian without the calorie punch. You then have a choice of six fillings (three meat, two vegan, one vegetarian), and and five chutneys, varying in spice level.
I chose a Naan Roll filled with Chargrilled Paneer (£6.95 on it’s own, or £10.95 with two sides), with the Mango, Lime and Ginger chutney, which is one of the mild ones. The sourdough naan was fluffy and enjoyable, packed full of filling, which had enormous chunks of flavoursome Paneer. The chutney was sweet and fruity, with lots of flavour without spice.
Our waitress very kindly gave us a little of each chutney to try, arranged in heat order. While all are very tasty, we found the jumps in heat weren’t consistent. The Pear and Tamarind, my Mango, Lime and Ginger and Mint, Lime and Pineapple were all the same heat levels (very mild, but full of tasty flavour, so just pick which flavour appeals most). The so-called hot Tomato and Naga Chilli sounded scary, but was actually tasty, with pleasing heat. The Scorpion actually is very hot though, so be aware. Even the hottest though still had flavour, which is excellent. I hate heat for the sake of it, which actually tastes of nothing.
Sides are £2.50 each, if you’re not ordering with a roll or bowl. I went for Rola’s String Fries and Red Channa Dal, while my dining partner, Miss Pond also chose the fries and the Avocado Chaat Salad.
The fries are not oily, and nice and crisp, topped with red onion, cucumber and a light dusting of spice. We were both disappointed in the Dal, which we found dry and overly sweet. The salad was delicious, if ill named. There was little avocado, and what there was of the smashed variety, lingering at the very bottom of the pot. It was, however, packed with chunks of mango, cucumber and pomegranate. If it had been called Mango Salad, I wouldn’t have missed the avocado, as it was fresh tasting and delicious. As it was, I found myself seeking out the avocado and not really finding it.
The wrap itself was incredibly filling, so I think if I was alone, I’d pick up just a roll or a bowl for a lunch, and skip the sides. If I was eating with a friend, I’d suggest ordering a side or two to share, which makes this a well-priced, filling, tasty option for a lunch while shopping.
Our waitress, Dina, was very friendly and took good care of us. It’s counter service, but we could see her and others popping by tables to check on diners, and she was happy to make suggestions and explain all the food to us.
It’s worth noting too, that if you order a Naan Roll, Rola Wala gives a meal to a child living in poverty, through the One Feeds Two movement, making this a lunch with a heart.
I was a guest of Rola Wala, and my food and drink were complementary for the purpose of review. All words, images and opinions are my own.