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Vegan dishes to try in Philly

It’s not new to be a vegan anymore. Thanks to a long-established network of local pioneers, evolving culinary skills, a wider audience, and improved products widely available for chefs to work with, plant-based cooking has ensconced itself in Philadelphia restaurants of all kinds as an essential genre, not only as a craze to calm down with vegetarian pasta of the week.

Produce-based cuisine is especially innovative in the city’s top vegan restaurants, three of which I’ve profiled (Pietramala, Primary Plant Based, and Miss Rachel’s Pantry). But while grazing Philly’s remarkably deep vegan scene over the past few months, I devoured some share-worthy bites that showcase both the creativity and diversity of plant-based options.

The vegan dim sum from Unit Su Vege carries on a long tradition of plant-based Chinese cuisine, and I was impressed with the variety of well-made dumplings (the Shanghai variety was my favourite), as well as a tasty five-spice glazed mock duck complete with fluffy buns, spring outings and all the confirmations. Su Xing house (1508 Sansom St.) is another old favorite in the genre. 2000 Hamilton St., 215-988-1888; unitsuvege.com

The vegan sushi from Tomo Sushi & Ramen goes beyond the usual cucumber rolls to show creativity with key ingredients such as marinated tomato for tuna and sweet eggplant for eel. My favorite was the inari tofu skin pockets filled with rice and shiitake mushrooms. Fish-based sushi is also available. 228 Arch St., 267-519-0209; tomosushiandramen.com

The salatim platter at Laser Wolf is always the most dynamic highlight at this popular Israeli grill house, featuring 10 bottomless salads that evolve to reflect the season, from cardamom-scented tomato matbucha to smoky kale baba ghanoush, along with Laser’s sublime hummus and fluffy pita. It is always vegan and can be had for only $21. No kebab needed. 1301 N. Howard St., 267-499-4660; laserwolfphilly. com

The fried chick’un enoki mushroom sandwich at Nourish is one of the best natural alternatives to chicken, but is best eaten hot while the battered cluster of thin-stemmed mushrooms is still tender. Sarah Scandone’s third location for Nourish in three years, after two fires, also serves one of the best vegan cheesesteaks around, “That Philly Jawn,which you can wash down with a cup of sea moss tea. 177 W. Girard Ave., 267-761-9242; feedingcafe.net

The squash ‘nduja toast at Redcrest Kitchen features one of the most compelling produce-based renditions of ‘nduja, the spreadable, spicy Italian salami that’s now a popular condiment now vegetarianized (Pietramala makes one out of carrots). Garnishes of manchego and honey can easily be omitted from Redcrest to make it vegan. 625 S. Sixth St., 215-454-6951; redcrest.kitchen

The grilled corn ribs at Huff N Puff BBQ are cut with just enough cob left to form long ribs that curl and char in the smoker, absorbing the spicy flavor. By far the best item on Huff N Puff’s vegan barbecue sampler. They also pair well with Huff N Puff’s pork barbecue. 246 S. 11th St., 267-239-5617; huffnpuffbarbeque.com

The mushroom pozole at El Chingon is one of several items offered as a vegan alternative (along with aguachiles and tlacoyos) at chef Carlos Aparicio’s charming New Mexican cafe in South Philly. The broth is infused with mushroom stems, cinnamon and guajillo chiles before combining with hominy and more oyster mushrooms for a deep and earthy flavor. 1524 S. 10th St., 267-239-2131; elchingonphilly. com

The vegan mixiote at Sor Ynez was one of the first in a recent wave of mind-blowing vegan Mexican efforts. Instead of using the rabbit typical of his hometown, Tlaxcala, here chef Alex Tellez stuffs a bundle of pit-roasted banana leaf bundles with a steaming pile of chayote, rice, celeriac, and kale moistened with chipotle stock and smoked eggplant pulp. . 1800 N. American St., 215-309-2582; sorynez. com

Supreme Oasis Bakery

I came for the vegan shrimp and grits at Supreme Oasis Bakery but the big winners of this West Philly vegan soul food takeout hub were the plant-based ones double cheeseburger bacon “Crunch Wrap” (six-sided folded and all) and popular strawberrypie. 4401 Lancaster Avenue, 215-452-5146; On Square site

The fried oyster mushroom calamari at Monster Vegan is another example of the mushroom’s growing importance in local cuisines. Battered crispy in strips with a side of sweet marinara, they’re a ringer for fried squid and totally at home in this vegan version of an Italian dinner wrapped in a kitschy horror movie-themed cocktail bar. 1229 Spruce St., 215-790-9494; themonstervegan.com

There are actually six variations of it the Buffalo ranch tofu sandwich at Middle Child Club House depending on whether you want it vegan, vegetarian or gluten free. But one thing’s for sure: This pickle-pickled tofu encrusted with cornflakes topped with vegan ranch, hot sauce, and a vegan blue cheese option, is one of the tastier slices of bean curd you’ll sink your teeth into. 1232 N. Front St., 267-858-4325; middlechildphilly. com

The crispy polenta at Bloomsday with kale pesto, hazelnuts, smoked Mycopolitan trumpet mushrooms and spicy tahini dressing, it’s the perfect vegan nibble when touring the extensive list of vermuts and natural wines in this forward-thinking Society Hill tippler’s haven. 414 S. 2nd St., 267-319-8018; bloomsdaycafe.com

The vegan hoagie at Martha reflects Chef Andrew Magee’s clever quest to recreate the texture and flavors of salumi in a traditional Italian with deftly handled produce, fermenting thinly sliced ​​watermelon radish, zucchini seasoned with fennel pollen, miso-marinated eggplant and pastrami-spiced Chioggia beets are stacked into a bun that is satisfying to eat. It’s one of the best hoagies in town. Period. 2113 E. York St., 215-867-8881; martha.menu

The Spinach Jawn at Batter & Crumbs is essentially a tasty spinach pie, but more specifically, the thin, double-crust puff pastry is inspired by an Emilian specialty called Erbazzone. 1401 Reed St., 267-319-8852; batterandcrumbs.square.site

The mushroom arancini at Tulip Pasta & Wine Bar is notable not only for the deep mushroom flavor of the risotto inside, but also for the extra level of cave-aged funk and creaminess that Alexander Beninato draws from two vegan cheeses made by Philly’s Bandit – floury crust Maverick and cream cheesy Philly Spread – that have become fast essential ingredients in the pantries of local chefs. 2302 E. Norris St., 267-773-8189; tulip paste. com

Jean Georges Philadelphia

The poached rhubarb topped with a scoop of blown sugar with vegan whipped cream at Jean-Georges Philadelphia was everything I hoped for from a sophisticated plant-based tasting menu on the 59th floor of a celebrity chef restaurant. The rest of the experience? Not so much. But JG’s pastry chef left a lasting positive impression by pushing the boundaries of plant-based sweets. Four Seasons Hotel, 1 N. 19th St., 215-419-5057; jean-georgesphiladelphia.com