Similar to the U.S., only a small portion of the population in mainland China is vegan or vegetarian. But many of its traditional meatier dishes lend themselves well to plant-based interpretations, says Cindy Huang, manager at Su Xing House.

“My grandma still tries to persuade me that you need to eat meat to balance your diet,” says Huang, who started following a mostly vegan diet after moving here 10 years ago. “It’s easy to find tofu and vegetable dishes in China — it’s not as easy to find them without meat, like chicken or pork. But tofu has a lot of protein on its own, and you can mix and match it with almost any vegetable and all sorts of flavorful sauces.”

The mission at Su Xing House, says Huang, is to change the perception that vegetarian food is boring. It’s one of more than a handful of restaurants in the Philly region offering savory, vegan-friendly Chinese dishes, like tofu skins with mushrooms, steamed vegetable buns, garlicky stir-fried bok choy, and spicy tofu. Its menu is 95% vegan, and fully vegetarian. But even at many restaurants where meat fills the menu, it’s easy to find plant-based options.

“Milk products aren’t really common in Chinese cuisine, so you can pretty much get anything vegan here. Almost all the entrées can be made with tofu,” owner Han Chiang says about the menu at Han Dynasty. “Gluten-free — now that’s a lot tougher, because soy sauce is required for a lot of dishes.”

If you’re interested in ordering meat-free dumplings, dan dan noodles, and mapo tofu, here’s where to find it, along with Chinese American fare like General Tso’s tofu and sesame “chicken.”

Su Xing House

Nearly the entire menu at Su Xing House is vegan, except for a few items that contain egg, indicated with a leaf symbol on the menu. The General Tso’s seitan and sesame seitan rank as the top-sellers, but Huang says her favorite meal is the “Vegetable Heaven.” It allows you to sample a trio of dishes — stir-fried green beans, garlicky Chinese eggplant, and braised tofu — along with your choice of brown or white rice. “It’s just so beautiful and full of healthy vegetables,” says Huang.

📍 1508 Sansom St. 📞 215-564-1419 🌐 📷 @suxinghouse 🚗 Restaurant website, GrubHub, Seamless, Caviar, DoorDash

» READ MORE: Where to get vegan mac and cheese in Philly

Unit Su Vege

Unit Su Vege offers a full spread of vegan Chinese and dim sum fare, including shumai, watercress dumplings, and taro cake, partnered with classic Chinese American cuisine, like General Tso’s tofu and Peking “duck.” If you have trouble choosing, staff favorites include the tofu skins braised with mushrooms and the Shanghai dumplings, filled with savory faux meat. Just keep an eye out for what’s marked “vegan,” noted on the menu with the letter “V.” While everything at the restaurant is vegetarian, a small selection of items, like the lo mein and sesame noodles, are made with egg.

📍 2000 Hamilton St. 📞 215-988-1888 🌐 📷 @unitsuvege 🚗 Caviar, GrubHub, Seamless, UberEats

Sang Kee Peking Duck House

Order the vegetarian dinner for two at this decades-old Chinatown stalwart , and you’ll get a four-course vegan meal, featuring steamed veggie dumplings, vegan beef chow fun, sautéed bok choy with tofu and shiitake mushrooms, and General Tso’s tofu. There’s a vegetarian section on Sang Kee’s menu, too, and most items are naturally vegan or can be made vegan. Just make note when ordering.

📍 238 N. 9th St. 📞 215-925-7532 🌐 📷 @sangkeechinatown 🚗 restaurant website, Seamless, UberEats, GrubHub, DoorDash, Postmates, Caviar

» READ MORE: Where to get vegan fried chicken sandwiches in Philly

Golden Empress Garden

This South Street spot serves up an extensive menu of Chinese American dishes, half of which are vegetarian. Among the options, a few use eggs in the batter (General Tso’s, sesame, and three-style “chicken,” orange “chicken” and “beef”), and the lo mein is made with egg noodles. But most other items are fully plant-based, like the moo shu “chicken,” made with wheat gluten, and the Hunan-style “beef.” Call ahead if you have questions, or order online and include that you’re vegan. The restaurant says you’ll get a call if an order can’t be made plant-based.

📍 618 South St. 📞 215-627-7666 🌐 🚗 GrubHub, Seamless, DoorDash, Postmates, Caviar

Han Dynasty (Philadelphia, Exton, Royersford, and Cherry Hill)

Just ask, and most of Han Dynasty’s menu can be made vegan. Many of the entrées are naturally plant-based when you opt for tofu as your protein, like the “crispy rice style,” featuring bamboo shoots, black mushrooms, and wood ear mushrooms, stir-fried in a sweet and sour sauce and served over crispy rice. Chiang’s favorite is the “dry pepper style,” made with fried tofu and plenty of dried chili peppers. “It’s an eight out of 10 on the spice level,” says Chiang. Other popular dishes include the spicy cucumbers and the top-selling dan dan noodles, served with salted preserved vegetables when requested vegan.

📍Multiple locations, including 4356 Main St. 📞 215-508-2066 🌐 📷 @handynasty 🚗 GrubHub, DoorDash, UberEats, Seamless, Caviar

» READ MORE: Best vegan takeout and delivery in Philly

Best China Inn

A go-to for many West Philly vegans, Best China Inn offers an expansive vegetarian section on its menu, most of which is fully plant-based. Order vegetable dishes, like broccoli with black bean sauce; noodle dishes, like “chicken” mai fun; and classically meaty Chinese American-dishes-turned-vegan, like orange “chicken.” The most popular items include the sesame “chicken” and General Tso’s tofu. If you’re not sure what’s vegan, call ahead, and when picking a noodle dish, skip the egg-noodle-based lo mein and opt for the ho fun or mai fun, both made with rice noodles.

📍4423 Locust St. 📞 215-222-2208 🌐 🚗 restaurant website, BeyondMenu, GrubHub, Seamless, DoorDash, UberEats

DanDan Noodles (Philadelphia and Wayne)

From its vegetable sides to its Sichuan-style entrées to its namesake dan dan noodles to its turmeric golden iced coffee, an array of items at DanDan’s Wayne and Philadelphia locations (and its soon-to-open Ardmore location) can be made vegan. Just note your dietary preferences when ordering, and look for entrées that have a tofu option. The most popular is the cumin-fried tofu, featuring crispy soft tofu paired with peppers and onions, seasoned with cumin, soy sauce, and chili pepper. The dry pot tofu is a top-seller, too. It’s made with strips of pressed tofu, peppers, onions, bamboo shoots, and black wood ear mushrooms, stir-fried in a wok with a generous amount of chili oil. “It’s a favorite if you like spicy,” says general manager Justin Gouge. “Just make sure to request it vegan, and we’ll take out the oyster sauce.”

Philly: 📍126 S. 16th St. 📞 215-800-1165 🌐 📷 @dandanrittenhouse 🚗 Postmates, DoorDash, UberEats, Caviar

» READ MORE: Best vegan takeout and delivery in the 'burbs

Wayne: 📍214 Sugartown Rd., Wayne 📞 484-580-8558 🌐 📷 @dandanwayne 🚗 DoorDash, UberEats, Caviar

215-800-1165 (locations in Wayne & Philly; emailed)

SuTao Cafe (Malvern)

SuTao Cafe has been serving an all-vegan menu for over 20 years, offering dumplings, moo shu “pork,” Kung Pao “shrimp,” General Tso’s portobello mushroom, and beyond. For many of the dishes, you choose your protein, whether seitan, soy protein, or konjac, a plant used for its starchy root. While the restaurant is currently open for takeout and delivery only, it hopes to return its signature lunch and dinner buffets post-pandemic.

📍81 Lancaster Ave., Malvern 📞 610-651-8886 🌐 🚗 Restaurant website, Grubhub, Seamless

Hunan Ardmore (Ardmore)

Rooted in the flavors of founder Mr. K.C. Foo’s home province of Hunan, China, this Ardmore staple has served the Main Line for nearly 50 years. In March, the restaurant launched two vegan pop-up menus, offering dishes like hot and sour soup made with vegan “eggs,” soy-based “shrimp” simmered in a black bean sauce, and smoked tofu stir-fried with shiitake mushrooms and mustard greens. Hunan hopes to launch its next vegan pop-up in May. In the meantime, the regular menu features a variety of vegetable-based dishes, but they’re cooked using the same cookware used for orders with meat. “Although the ingredients are vegan, we can’t really say it’s vegan because we don’t have the space right now [to prevent cross contamination],” says co-owner Betty Foo. Keep your eyes peeled on Hunan’s pop-up website and Facebook for updates on the next plant-based pop-up.

📍47 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore 📞 610-642-3050 🌐 📷 @hunan_ardmore 🚗 Takeout only

Read more vegan stories:

» READ MORE: More Philly tips: Read our most useful stories