Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sumiao Brings Hunanese Cuisine to Kendall Square (Cambridge, Boston, MA)

Boston honestly doesn't have too much regional Chinese cuisine, but this is changing with the arrival of Sumiao in Kendall Square. Sumiao brings Hunanese cuisine, which is hard to find in most places, and combines it with a chich decor and solid cocktails.
Sumiao

The regular menu already has a number of authentic Hunanese dishes, but on weekends they add even more authentic recipes as specials. I got to try the Homemade La Rou with Mushrooms ($28)
Sumiao
La rou is like Hunanese bacon - it is pork belly that's been smoked then hang-dried. This is one of the quintessential Hunanese food. In Hunan, they like to smoke their meats, which is then stir fried with some chili and vegetables (because Hunanese also love their chilies!). They also have la rou with a different preparation on their lunch menu for $13, and I encourage you to try it.

Hunan tofu pot, pork belly, green chili, black bean chili sauce, $18)
Sumiao
As I mentioned, Hunanese love their chilies. Chairman Mao hailed from Hunan and reportedly once said "you can't be a revolutionary if you don't eat chilies!" The Hunan tofu pot was one of the spicier dishes. The spice isn't too bad but it does build up (but if you want more, you can ask for "authentic spicy"). This was one of our favorites that day, with the nicely fried tofu and the flavorful pork belly.


Yellow River Beef (thin sliced beef, vegetables, white beech mushrooms, $32)
Sumiao
The Hunanese also like to pickle and ferment their vegetables, and you get a flavor of that here in the Yellow River Beef. The broth is a little spicy but you also get some tartness from the pickled green mustard that sits at the bottom of the bowl.

Xiangtan winter melon with garlic black bean sauce ($14)
Sumiao
A popular vegetable in China that we rarely get in the US, they're like radish in texture and sweetness, nicely cooked with a rich garlic black bean sauce.

Purple yam bun with white lotus filling ($9)
Sumiao
I'm afraid the lovely purple color of the buns didn't really show up in these photos, you just have to see them by yourself. These buns with the sweet lotus filling are great to share or for dessert.
Sumiao

Sumiao also has some good cocktails, especially as far as Chinese restaurants are concerned. Sumiao has a list of tiki cocktails as well as some classics with an Asian twist, like this Z-squeezed Dragonfruit Daiquiri (white rum, squeezed dragon fruit, lime, $14)
Sumiao
The daiquiri was well balanced and refreshing. They also have a selection of baijiu, China's most popular liquor, that you can order by itself or in a cocktail. I was recommended the Ice Cold Fusion (baijiu, cognac, triple sec, lemon, $14)
Sumiao
This is the simplest (less sweet) of the baijiu cocktails, and the flavor of the liquor comes out nicely here. My friend tried the Pyroclastic Punch with Fruitlab hibiscus liqueur, passionfruit cordial, and lemon which was too sweet for me.

While Sumiao is certainly more expensive than its Chinatown counterparts, it offers something more with its chic decor, its location near all the tech and biotech companies in the area, and its selection of cocktails and craft beers. The food was also very good, and felt more refined and less heavy than most. If you work or live in the area, consider Sumiao as your regular lunch or dinner rotation. If you don't, pay them a visit anyway to taste what Hunanese cuisine is like.
Sumiao

Sumiao Hunan Kitchen
270 Third St
Cambridge, MA
http://www.sumiaohunan.com/

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