Wheel of Life

Orange County, California


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I went there for the first time today having recently decided to become largely vegetarian.
The whole location was under remodeling and boarded up (but businesses were still open). Once inside, it was worth the trip however.

The place itself looks very average (like a typical small Chinese or Thai local restaurant).
The staff were extremely friendly (looks like it was family run).
I was impressed that it was quite full, especially with Thai customers, so I knew I was in for a treat.

I had Tom Yum soup (was delicious) and beef satay (so-so) to start.
Main course I had spicy soft noodles (very tasty) and crunchy chicken (was lightly fried and hence was filling). I would have liked to have seen a few more pure, simple, plain vegetable dishes. They don't have a liquor license, so no wine. For 2 people, total bill was $40 which was reasonable.

Overall, a really nice meal and would definitely go back again!

Image for Jean-Guille

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What can I say about The Wheel that has not already been said? Let me try.

First, the dining experience here is akin to eating in the home of a family member, or good friend, as an invited guest. Victor and Kim are warm and welcoming, and remember your name long after the first introduction. On each visit, Victor will greet you at your table with a clasping handshake, a brief inquiry as to how you are doing, and will close with a sincere thank you for supporting his small family business. He is never obtrusive or loud, and I have never heard any boastful claims, only expressions of gratitude and appreciation. He closes with his trademark, “Vegan power”, but it is always given in a conversational tone. Kim makes small talk for a few minutes when she visits, again, in an effort to personalize your experience. Longtime server May is a wonderful woman who makes our dining experience a real pleasure.

I appreciate that some patrons may prefer an anonymous dining experience, with food simply being brought out to them by faceless, nameless servers, but I do not. I love that the food at The Wheel is being prepared for me, by people who know my face and my name. Additionally, Mrs. J-G and I have recently gone soy-free (exculding tofu), and May and the staff have been gracious and accomodating in making suggestions and substitutions to dishes to help us out.

The atmosphere is soothing and relaxed, and the patrons seem to respect others’ right to a nice dining experience, unlike some veg places where the trendy, lost souls seeking their identity feel the need to impose their will on other diners by wandering in barefoot and conversing loudly during their meal.

On to the food. The menu choices are extensive, and can be found here--> http://www.wheelofliferestaurant.com/menunewitems.html New items are featured regularly, so something fresh is always available to try.

My favorites include the Pineapple Fried Rice, The Green Curry, The Wheel Fresh Spring Rolls, the Pan Fried Spinach Buns, and the Marble Cake for dessert. I have been dining there for years, and have sampled many of their offerings. The soups and curries are amazing.

I am disappointed that a reviewer would be so given to exaggeration as to allege that a dessert was so hard that it could not be penetrated by a fork and that a family member was nearly blinded trying to break off a piece. I also doubt the veracity of the claim of the use of non-vegan ingredients. One only has to know Victor and Kim to agree with my assertion here. I think the rest of the reviews support the good work being done, and the excellent service being given at this restaurant.

I am giving it five stars out of five, for the outstanding service, atmosphere, and because it is my wife’s favorite of our regular vegan restaurants, which does affect me.

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We love Victor and the Wheel of Life.. so much in fact, they are catering our wedding in June! I enjoy their prange chicken and BBQ chicken.. everything here is delish, who am I kidding?! Their sweet rice w/ mungbean is my favorite dessert and Victor's too. He'll greet you on your first visit and you'll keep coming back!

As for the comment below me.. I certainly hope that is not true. I am extremely allergic to dairy enough that if I eat something with a tiny bit on accident I can tell. I have not had an allergy yet but will be aware and try ordering the thai iced tea. Thank you for the heads up.

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After going to Wheel of Life for years, I happened to get a glimpse inside their refrigerator behind the bar/counter. They use a non-dairy creamer made by Ralph's supermarket (which also happens to be in the same shopping mall). We went to Ralph's to check the ingredients and it is definitely not-vegan! They use it in their Thai Ice Tea and other items as a milk/cream substitute. I repeat: It is NOT vegan! How much of the other ingredients are not vegan? Last year during the holidays, they were selling these chocolate dipped pretzels they claimed were vegan but they tasted like milk chocolate and did not look like any vegan dark chocolate, so we asked and it turns out they bought them from some lady who came in selling them. They had originally told her they couldn't buy them because it was a vegan restaurant and she apparently came back the next day claiming they were now vegan. They bought them to sell. This is not right and this is not fair! Give it all the great reviews you want, but that damn dairy replacer is not vegan. So true vegans beware the lack of true veganosity!

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The Wheel of Life is a fantastic restaurant. I have been going there since 2002 and I have still not tried everything on the menu (can't get past my favorites). Victor is dedicated to making healthy and tasty cuisine. There is nothing else in South Orange County that can come close to the food here.

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I LOVE this place. I was not a vegetarian or vegan before I started eating here but I am now about 98% both. I either eat at the restaurant or take food home almost every day of the week. It is really, really good. There is a great variety of dishes to choose from and the desserts are divine. I totally disagree with the gentleman whose family didn't like the cheese cake, sorry but they are nuts! But my personal favorite is the coconut ice cream. I hope Victor and Kim, and all their lovely family members who assist with the restaurant will be in business forever. The Wheel of Life is my home away from home and has literally changed my life.

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I love Wheel of Life! Victor's passion for veganism is fantastic; Such an inspiration that he has started this restaurant to try and influence others into a life of compassion. His warmth never ceases to amaze me.

Oh yeah, and the food is great too! I love the orange chicken, lots of stuff in the lunch buffet that I don't know the names of, and homemade coconut icecream with fried bananas. And the cheesecake is awesome too. I bring my non-veggie friends here and they love it too. What a great place!

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Wheel of Life is our favorite restaurant in Orange County. There are a ton of dishes to choose from, which means we can go every weekend and not get sick of it, unlike most places. Victor and Kim and the rest of the staff are super nice.
Our favorite dishes: BBQ Chicken, Tom Kah Kai, Dry String Beans, Pineapple Curry, Pad Thai, Sizzling Bean Curd with Basil. The cheesecake is amazing although every now and again the texture is a bit off - probably the reason for the disappointment in one of the other reviews. The chocolate and vanilla cakes are always good, however as are the ice creams.

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First off, I really dislike Asian food, but even I enjoyed Wheel of Life. They were very helpful when we walked in shortly before closing and I became lost in a menu of unfamiliar choices. My mum helped order the Kung Pao 'Chicken,' BBQ Spare 'Ribs,' Mixed Vegetables, and String Beans. You have to order rice if you want it because each dish is served individually (I detest rice, so this was not an issue!). I appreciated the fact that the vegetables could be steamed or stir-fried, and my omni mum said that it was some of the best Kung Pao 'Chicken' and 'Ribs' that she had ever tried! A delightful surprise all around...

-And, yes, Victor is just as personable and proud about being a vegan as people have said -but he is also kind and serves great food!

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Great place when you know what to order. The spicy crispy chicken is awesome. The pad thai and the sa-tay are also great dishes. The sweet and sour pork is above average and there is a dish that is peppersteak that is great. You can not beat the friendly service. Victor is great!

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This place is pretty good. My favorite is the Pad Thai, it's absolutely delicious. However, we have been there many times in hopes to find something else to order regularly besides the pad thai, and it has been really hard. We've ordered many "so-so" things. For example, the green curry had WAY too much coconut milk in it. Also, their soup had an off taste.

I must compliment them on their fake meat... VERY good. It tastes extremely close to chicken.

You know, we haven't gone there for awhile, and none of us have suggested it lately. There are other places we would rather go.

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I have visted many vegan restaurants across the country and this is the best restaurant i have ever been to. Victor and Kim are the nicest friendliest people you will ever meet, they treat everyone like family and victor remembers almost everyone's name. The food is simply the best soy food i have ever tasted. The BBQ chicken, spicy crispy chicken, and satay are amazing. I usually end up going 1 -2 times a week. They also have new vegan chocolate and vanilla cake. Everything is 100% vegan, he even has most of his soy meats specially made to ensure the source of the ingredients. Victor is a doctor and is very concerned about your health. There is definitely no MSG in anything.

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My family, friends and I are regulars at The Wheel of Life and feel Victor's sociable nature is a breath of fresh air. The food is excellent, especially the Veggie BBQ Chicken, Satay and Pad Tai. The service is genuinely kind, the food is healthy being virtually cholesterol free, and we adore Victor. The restaurant simply exudes compassion.

We will always come back for Victor’s delectable food. Sincerely, Andrew and family.

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OK. Victor is a lively one. He was terribly friendly which was welcome when we came in but grew tiresome quickly. We went with family and wanted to talk, but kept getting interrupted by Victor's over the top joviality. No ability to read when people wanted to enjoy a meal and talk among themselves. He reminded us--and everyone who walked in (we had a table by the door)--that he was a "fourth generation master vegan." Just what is a "master vegan" anyway? In the end, you go to a restaurant for the food, and the food was uninspiring and bland. They raved about their faux cheese cake, but it should have been called chisel-cake. I tried a fork and simply couldn't penetrate, it was rock hard. My wife had better luck but sent a projectile of cake across the table and almost blinded our daughter. We will never go there again.

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Outstanding cuisine, wonderful flavor. But the most fascinating and healthy thing of all is its owner. He is a medical doctor who will be retired as of this time with a wonderful attitude toward life and willing to share his knowledge and love of life with all of his clients. Victor Lim is a fourth generation vegan. He is full of life and happiness and gives this freely to his guests. The vegetables are fresh and tasty. The atmosphere is cleansing and energy inspiring. And my carnivore husband was absolutely fascinated with the imaginative and tasty imitations of shrimp, cow meat, pig flesh and chicken. It was scarey how tasty these bean/soy combinations were. I frankly do not enjoy nor have a need for imitation flesh. But it was an eye-opener for the other people we dined with.
What a lovely place. Wish I lived closer.

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