Sumiao Hunan Kitchen joined the Kendall Square dining scene in July, adding Hunan cuisine with a contemporary atmosphere. Sumiao means “sketch” in Chinese and is the name of owner Sumiao Chen. She successfully marries modern and classic concepts, updating the image of cheap Chinese fare in American culture. Chen is an experienced restaurant owner with a scientist background.
For starters, we got the Spicy Crunchy Cucumbers for $8. Its subtle spice from the sesame chili oil seasoning gave a lovely refreshing crunch and flavor, whetting our appetites.
The meal’s highlight — and what dreams are made of — was the Red Braised Pork Belly ($25). This secret family recipe delivered amazingly delicate, melt-in-your-mouth pork belly, packed with sweet, savory and spice in every bite. Paired with brown rice, you did not want to miss a bit of the flavorful sauce.
The Shaoshan Cabbage ($15) was simply cooked with garlic, aged vinegar and chili oil, but was anything but boring. Its aged vinegar heightened its flavors, making it addictive.
The Mala Duck ($9) features aged mala soy rub and was served cold. Being a fan of duck, the moist and tender duck meat was enveloped with crispy skin. It was delightful with subtle spices and savory flavor in every bite. Do be aware there are some pieces with bones as well.
The Garlic Calamari ($8) with minced garlic plus green and red pepper packed a punch of flavor of subtle heat and garlic goodness. There was no heavy breading on the perfectly cooked squid, which was not overdone.
The restaurant space is beautifully decorated, combining Sumiao’s personal touch as the daughter of celebrated Chinese painter Peihua Chen. Food prices are higher with smaller portions here, but please remember this not a Chinese-American takeout joint. The quality ingredients alone and the delicious modern twist to Hunan cuisine is a welcome addition to Boston’s dining scene.
Sumiao Hunan Kitchen
270 Third Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
This post is also available in: Chinese