Exploring the Regional Variations of Chinese Cuisine in Philadelphia, PA

When it comes to Chinese cuisine, most people think of popular dishes like General Tso's chicken, lo mein, and egg rolls. However, there is much more to Chinese food than just these well-known dishes. In fact, Chinese cuisine is incredibly diverse and varies greatly depending on the region it comes from. This is especially true in a city like Philadelphia, PA, where there is a large Chinese population and a thriving food scene.

The Influence of Regional Chinese Cuisines in Philadelphia

Philadelphia has a long history of Chinese immigration, dating back to the mid-19th century.

As a result, the city has a rich and diverse Chinese food culture that reflects the different regional cuisines of China. From Cantonese to Szechuan to Hunan, you can find a variety of regional Chinese dishes in Philadelphia. Not only can you find them in traditional restaurants, but also in food trucks, pop-up markets, and even fusion restaurants that combine Chinese flavors with other cuisines. This makes Philadelphia a great place for foodies to explore and discover new and unique dishes.

Cantonese Cuisine

Cantonese cuisine originated from the Guangdong province in southern China.

It is known for its delicate flavors and use of fresh ingredients. In Philadelphia, you can find many Cantonese restaurants in Chinatown, such as Sang Kee Peking Duck House and Joy Tsin Lau. These restaurants serve classic Cantonese dishes like dim sum, wonton soup, and roast duck. One of the most popular Cantonese dishes in Philadelphia is the roast pork belly bao bun from Baology.

This fusion restaurant puts a modern twist on traditional Cantonese dishes, making it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

Szechuan Cuisine

Szechuan cuisine comes from the Sichuan province in southwestern China. It is known for its bold and spicy flavors, thanks to the use of Szechuan peppercorns and chili peppers. In Philadelphia, you can find many Szechuan restaurants, such as Han Dynasty and Chengdu Famous Food. These restaurants serve dishes like mapo tofu, kung pao chicken, and dan dan noodles.

One of the must-try dishes in Philadelphia's Szechuan restaurants is the dry-fried green beans from Han Dynasty. These crispy and spicy green beans are a crowd favorite and a perfect side dish to any meal.

Hunan Cuisine

Hunan cuisine comes from the Hunan province in central China. It is known for its bold and sour flavors, as well as its use of pickled vegetables. In Philadelphia, you can find Hunan restaurants like Han Dynasty and Chili Szechuan that serve dishes like hot and sour soup, orange chicken, and fish with pickled vegetables.

One of the most popular Hunan dishes in Philadelphia is the dry-fried eggplant from Chili Szechuan. This dish is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with a perfect balance of sweet and sour flavors.

Exploring Beyond Chinatown

While Chinatown is the hub for Chinese cuisine in Philadelphia, there are also many hidden gems outside of this neighborhood that offer regional Chinese dishes. For example, Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House in Center City serves hand-pulled noodles from the Shanxi province in northern China. And at Dim Sum Garden in University City, you can find delicious dim sum dishes from the Guangdong province.

Another great place to explore regional Chinese cuisines in Philadelphia is at the Reading Terminal Market. Here, you can find a variety of Chinese food vendors that offer dishes from different regions of China.


Philadelphia, PA is a melting pot of different cultures and cuisines, and Chinese cuisine is no exception. With a large Chinese population and a thriving food scene, the city offers a diverse range of regional Chinese dishes that are sure to satisfy any food lover's cravings. From Cantonese to Szechuan to Hunan, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Philadelphia's Chinese food scene.

So next time you're in Philadelphia, be sure to venture beyond the typical Chinese dishes and explore the regional variations that this city has to offer - you won't be disappointed!.

Ann Jorinscay
Ann Jorinscay

Total troublemaker. Hipster-friendly tv buff. Infuriatingly humble twitter guru. Professional beer scholar. Travel ninja. Unapologetic coffee expert.