CAMBRIDGE, MA (July 20, 2017) – On July 28, Cambridge will become home to the first Hunanese concept in Greater Boston when Sumiao Hunan Kitchen officially opens to the public. Located in the bustling and tech-driven Kendall Square, Sumiao Hunan Kitchen is the loving creation of Sumiao Chen – a passionate female restaurateur and scientist from Xiangtan, Hunan, China – and a team of restaurant industry veterans and investors. Sumiao, whose name in Chinese means “sketch,” stays true to her namesake by creatively melding tradition with modernity to bring forth an unmatched dining and social experience. Sumiao Hunan Kitchen aims to shatter preconceived notions that Chinese food is a low-cost, low-quality experience by introducing an authentic, contemporary Asian concept that is largely unknown in the local area but has reached soaring popularity in other U.S. food meccas like New York City and Los Angeles.
Located on street level beneath the luxury Vivo apartments, the design of Sumiao Hunan Kitchen captures the rustic authenticity of Chen’s native culture in a sleek and modern way. The open layout of the restaurant features a series of different experiences under its roof. There is the traditional dining room seating in front of a fireplace, a bar that overlooks an expansive action kitchen, a polished lounge area that boasts a large communal table abstractly shaped in the form of an “S,” and additional low-top options for a more intimate experience. Behind a metal curtain towards the back of the lounge, there is a private room with full A/V capabilities that will be available as a meeting space for the abutting businesses. Sumiao Hunan Kitchen’s other private event space comes in the form of a dining room, located to the right of the open kitchen. The space boasts floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides, delicate glass pendant lights that hang from above and a seasonal outdoor patio with bright custom-designed furniture.
The color palette of the restaurant is based on traditional patterns from Hunan’s Xiangxi prefecture, primarily utilizing yellows, reds, and blues while weaving in brown and gray tones reminiscent of the mountainous landscape of Hunan. The space is outfitted with four major artworks that celebrate the juxtaposition between history and modern day as well as Chen’s love and appreciation of art that has nurtured her since infancy. Chen – the daughter of one of China’s most celebrated painters and calligraphers, Peihua Chen – has thoughtfully selected pieces to exhibit the beauty and sophistication of Hunanese culture. Among the works is a magnificently vibrant painting by Peihua Chen of a lotus flower, which represents rebirth, purity, and self-awareness. In full circle, just as her father gifted her the translated name of “Sketch” at birth, this painting was his final gift to his daughter before his passing.
With her newest project, Chen – an innovator in the Asian dining scene who is credited with being one of the first to bring “Asian fusion” restaurants to the region – has designed a smart, sophisticated, and approachable social dining experience that introduces guests to her beloved hometown cuisine while weaving in her vast local restaurant experience and her education from Le Cordon Bleu. At Sumiao Hunan Kitchen, international chefs Changchun Ji and Xinke Tan – whose combined pedigrees include experience at top-rated restaurants such as Nobu, Masa, Hakkasan and Hunan Manor – will execute a selection of small traditional dishes where native seasonal ingredients are prepared with modern twists, encouraging diners to experiment. With extremely distinct flavors created by the combination of various spices, these health-conscious creations are bursting with bold tastes and colors that let the natural flavors shine. The menus – whose dishes are graded by their level of spiciness – offer lunch,small plates, dinner and dessert in addition to nightly chef specials and weekend features. Highlights include a section dedicated to Gai Fan, the widely popular lunch fare that marries proteins and vegetables over a bed of rice ($15), as well as a la carte dishes such as Grandma’s Pork with pork belly, green cayenne pepper and garlic leaves ($13) and Silver Fish served crispy with green and red chili ($13). For the biggest and most adventurous appetites, there is a customizable five-course prix fixe menu served at dinner ($60).
Sumiao Hunan Kitchen also will be home to one of the most unique beverage programs in the area, as designed by nationally acclaimed beverage consultant Richard Echeverria. Playing off classic Hunan drinks, Sumiao Hunan Kitchen will blend classic spirits with playful nods to the celebrated culture. Many of the cocktails, some of which are inventively named after Sumiao Chen’s time as a scientist, will use a rice wine native to the Hunan province as well as the popular East Asian spirit baijiu, which both pair harmoniously with its cuisine. Sips include the Pyroclastic Punch, a combination of baijiu, Fruitlab hibiscus liquor, passionfruit cordial and fresh citrus ($14), a Hunan-style Mai Tai which pays homage to Trader Vic’s original recipe with a special Sumiao twist ($12) and a large-format Tiki for Two concoction mixing scotch, gin, baijiu and tropical juices ($30).
Sumiao Hunan Kitchen will be open for lunch, dinner, and cocktails Sunday through Wednesday from 11:00am to 11:00pm, and Thursday through Saturday from 11:00am to 12:00am. Sumiao Hunan Kitchen is located at 270 Third Street in Cambridge’s Kendall Square neighborhood. For more information, please call (617) 945-0907 or visit www.sumiaohunan.com. Follow Sumiao Hunan Kitchen on Facebook, Instagram @sumiaohunan, and Twitter at @SumiaoHunan.