A casual new dining option, Whealthy, has opened near the Los Olivos neighborhood in Irvine in the same shopping center as Fukada. Originally opened in West Hollywood in 2017, the franchise now has four locations throughout California and Georgia. Its focus is on healthy and fast stir-fried meals.

When you first enter, you will see that the restaurant is set up cafeteria-style, but this does not mean the food is pre-made. Rather, you have the option to fill your bowl up with fresh vegetables, uncooked noodles, and raw meats to create your own meal. What happens is that you first choose between their cup and bowl sizes (I always go for the bowl size to have a full entrée) and then you can choose between one of their signature recipes or make your own. If you choose to make your own, you will then fill your bowl with carbs of your choice, move to the next section to pick out vegetables, and then finish off your meal with proteins and a sauce. After you put everything together in your bowl, you pay, and a chef stir-fries everything in their patented turning stir-fry bowl which cooks your meal rapidly.

Photo courtesy of Audrey Fong.

What’s amazing about their selection is that they offer a wide enough variety of carbs, veggies, and proteins that depending on your mood, you can customize your bowl to taste more like Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or Italian food. I also like that this restaurant is vegan friendly both because of the plethora of vegetables available and because they typically will have several plant-based proteins on hand like tofu or vegan chicken. Diners interested in low-carb meals will also love how Whealthy allows you to control how much of everything goes in your bowl, so in theory, you can skip the carbs completely.

My favorite part about this place is that they do not charge you based on weight, but on bowl size, so that I can add as many vegetables and noodles as I want. The only thing they upcharge you for is if you get more than two proteins.

I personally always choose to make my own bowl because that’s the fun of a place like Whealthy. My go-to bowl is udon with a ton of vegetables like spinach, corn, peas, mushrooms, onions, black fungus, and green onions. Then, I finish it off with bacon and vegan chicken (or salmon depending on my mood) and their sweet spicy sauce.

I highly recommend choosing their sweet spicy sauce. Even though it has multiple chili peppers next to its name on the menu, it’s not spicy. It leans more towards a sweet and savory flavor and when paired with the bacon, it’s especially delicious. I also like that the sauce is pretty thick so that it clings to your noodles. This sauce is the number one reason why I return to Whealthy. I crave it. I think about it and peer pressure my friends into eating at Whealthy for this sauce. It reminds me a bit of the gochujang sauce that comes over Korean rice cakes but without the burn that leaves me blowing my nose.

Overall, Whealthy is a fast, convenient, and affordable dining option. Each bowl ranges from $12.50 – $13.80 and the portion sizes are generous. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys build-your-own-meal type of restaurants.