Hometown Eats: Wok N Roll Kitchen

Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 4:45 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke is no stranger when it comes to cuisine from all over the world and Asia is no exception. We’re checking in with the husband and wife owners of Wok N Roll Kitchen in downtown for this week’s Hometown Eats!

“Pretty cheap, food is delicious, and great service,” said regular customer Sebastian.

That description could be used for several restaurants, but I’d bet my next paycheck they don’t have a story like Wok N Roll husband and wife owners, Mario Amaya and Solida Oliver.

Mario joked, “She accepts my mistakes you know, and she doesn’t have any mistakes, she’s perfect!”

To understand how these two landed this space on Campbell Ave in downtown Roanoke, we go back 15 years to an online connection.

“I was living in California, and I met her online and I came here one day to meet her. I remember everybody telling me I was crazy asking where I’m going and where is Roanoke. Every time I tell people about Roanoke, and they google it, Texas comes up,” explained Mario. He continued, “Our first date was at iHop. We dated for about a year and asked her to move to California. She’s been a couple times, but she didn’t like it,”

“I don’t like traffic and everything you go to is short like 10 minutes to go to Kroger, 10 minutes to go shopping just not too many cars,” said Solida.

Mario moved to Roanoke, they got married, and had 5 kids while working in various restaurants. In 2016, they put their experience together and opened a place of their own, Wok N Roll was born in the now Crafteria on Church Avenue.

“Everything is thanks to her, the menu and the flavors,” said Mario.

They had the name, the flavors, but they bit off a little more than they could chew on day one.

“First day we tried to open, we had nothing ready. Everyone that shows up today we’ll give free egg rolls so they can taste, and we’ll let everybody know that tomorrow we’ll be opening,” Mario explained.

Wok N Roll has been humming ever since! In 2020, after some back and forth and a pandemic shut down inside dining, Mario and Solida moved operations to Campbell Avenue.

They survived by sticking to what they know, take-out, something still very popular today but if you have the time, come in and enjoy the décor, some straight from Cambodia, as you wait for the fresh, made to order Asian cuisine.

“Food is great, it’s always fresh, the prices are good, you can’t beat it,” said regular customer Dennis.

“Yum-Yum sauce, as you can see, we get the whole bottle for ourselves. I get my Lo Mein with the sweet chicken. You can’t get any better than that,” said Sebastian.

“We try to replicate a home cooked meal in the restaurant,” said Mario.

Mario said people joke with him, asking how he can work with his wife, unlike the complexity of their journey, the answer for him is simple.

“She’s the heart and the engine of this restaurant and of our family too. I’m just very thankful and blessed that I have her as my partner, as my friend, as my wife, the mother of my children, she’s everything to me,” Mario said with emotion in his voice.

Wok N Roll, A Far East and far out hometown eat.

Wok N Roll is located at 120 Campbell Ave SE, Roanoke, VA 24011.

You can follow their Facebook page, HERE.