Sample vegan, American-style Chinese food in Tokyo’s hippest neighborhood
Stars and Stripes April 20, 2023
Oscar, in Tokyo’s hip Setagaya district, claims to be the first vegan-only American-style Chinese restaurant in Japan, a boast that dared us to check it out.
Oscar Vegan and American Chinese opened in December just a 6-minute walk from Setagaya-Daita Station. The red and green neon lights on the wooden building’s exterior are easy to spot.
The restaurant’s interior looks like an old Chinese deli in New York, which creates the illusion for diners of stepping into America. The food-station serving line reminded me of Panda Express, an American restaurant chain that serves fast casual Chinese food.
The restaurant seats around 25 and accepts only cards, including Suica and Pasmo, but not cash.
Oscar offers weekend and dinner combinations, including a bowl that comes with one side or a half-and-half side option, for 1,000 yen or about $7.50; a platter with two main entrees and one side or the half-and-half option for 1,200 yen; and a deluxe with three mains and one side or the half-and-half for 1,500 yen.
Oscar’s menu looks like something from a Chinese restaurant in the States, with a vegan twist. They use vegan ingredients, including soy meat and 100% plant-based eggs or Umami Egg, Japan’s first vegan egg replacement made from konjac, a root vegetable.
For sides, Oscar serves the familiar varieties of chow mein and rice: white, brown and fried. For entrees, expect staples like General Tso’s, kung pao or orange chicken, chop suey, salt ‘n’ pepper fries stir fry, mapo tofu, honey walnut shrimp, meatballs, beef and broccoli and beef and string beans.
Extras include egg drop soup, egg rolls, chicken balls, french fries with sweet and sour sauce and chocolate banana Rangoons.
Soft drinks are 400 yen and include Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, Sprite and ginger ale; jasmine and jasmine Arnold Palmer teas are 500 yen. Beer and cocktails are also available.
I ordered a platter of orange chicken and beef and broccoli for the mains and the half-and-half sides of brown rice and chow mein. Looking at the “meat,” I couldn’t believe it was vegan; it all looked real.
Taste-wise, I can’t compare it to meat because I haven’t eaten meat in decades. But all of the food came with a ton of flavor, and the orange chicken, crunchy and seasoned to perfection, was the star of the platter.
Oscar is the place for the familiar taste of “American” Chinese food.
Oscar Vegan and American Chinese
Location: 2-36-15 Daita, Setagaya City, Tokyo 155-0033
Hours: Open daily, noon to 11 p.m.
Prices: Entrees for 1,000 yen; platters for 1,200 yen.
Directions: A short walk from Setagaya-Daita Station in Tokyo.
Information: Online: instagram.com/oscaramericanchinese