Urban systems, with the overall fluxes of energy, water, material, and wastes, can be modeled with a range of metabolic processes. To quantify the urban metabolism, we use the “emergy” assessment method (all materials and energy are transformed to solar energy equivalents) and then present a group of urban metabolic indicators, which quantify urban metabolic balance, capacity, and outputs to assess a city’s metabolic efficiencies. In this paper, we use 31 Chinese cities as a sample to illustrate how the model can be operated to evaluate the urban metabolism by emergy analysis. Our results indicate that metropolises and coastal cities were more metabolically efficient with higher metabolic balance, capacities, and outputs; but with more external dependency on imported resources. Central and western cities had lower metabolic efficiencies, with a high ratio of non-renewable emergy reliance. Policy implications highlight the need for renewable energy sources and improved management of imported services, goods, and fuels to achieve higher urban resilience and sustainability.