It takes quite a restaurant launch to pull in a queue as long as the one I encountered this afternoon. Stretching a good 100 metres out of the front door along Brushfield Street in Spitalfields, around the corner down Gun Street and creeping along into Artillery Lane at its peak (yep, it spanned three streets), it took me around an hour to get my order in at Rola Wala. Did I mention that it was raining the whole time?
Sure, these folks had all their ducks in a row: Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch featured their wrap on last weekend’s show, and a social media promotion this week offered free lunches to the first 300 people through the door after 12pm today. There are few things more popular than free food and, in my experience, most of them are illegal. That said, this success didn’t come out of nowhere.
Rola Wala has been touring major street food markets such as KERB and Street Feast since 2012. In 2014 a residency at Trinity Kitchen in Leeds beckoned and, within two months, that residency was extended into a permanent billing. Having sampled their nosh today for the first time, I can see why.
The wrap itself is an unusual sourdough naan brought alive by a vibrant range of meat, veggie and vegan filling options, topped off with an equally colourful and diverse offering of hot sauces. Naturally I went full inferno with the Nagaland Lamb + Tomato & Naga sauce, complemented by the optional Scorpion Chilli dipping sauce at 50p a pop.
You get no more than a small thimble of this dipping sauce which, to an idiot like me, seemed a little too small. Here I am (shown below) dropping the full thimble’s-worth onto one bite of wrap. Chowing down in a public eating area across the street from Rola Wala, the Scorpion-addled me would’ve appeared like a guy with girlfriend troubles cry-eating a naan for comfort food. As a look, I’d say it was probably sub-optimal.
Given my deep love for all things insanely chilli, however, it goes without saying that I went away a happy bunny. What’s more, the crafty buggers had actually managed to feed me something healthy, which takes some doing. Each wrap clocks in at around 500 calories and comes garnished with pickled cabbage, shavings of raw carrot, and coriander.
Fusion wraps and burritos are peaking in popularity across the London street food scene right now, such as the L.A. spawned Korrito (Korean burrito), and even Yorkshire pudding burritos (stay tuned for more on them very soon here on Pig-Out London). At the crest of this wave, though, is Indian food fusion.
As well as Rola Wala, you can also find the very excellent Bombay Burrito in Angel, which is a personal favourite of mine. The food is as fun as it is delicious, with a wide range of menu options that refuse to take themselves too seriously, including signature burritos such as Mumbai Mike’s Garlic Grenade and the Bombay Royale W/Cheese. Their super spicy burritos take some beating too – I’m yet to find hotter in London.