Sumiao Hunan Kitchen — currently “softly” open for a reservation-only, discounted preview period — will officially open in Cambridge’s Kendall Square (270 Third St.) on July 28, serving spicy Hunan cuisine, which is hard to find in the Boston-area Chinese food scene. Owner Sumiao Chen, who is a scientist but has also trained at Le Cordon Bleu, hails from China’s Hunan province.
Aside from its signature spiciness, Hunan cuisine features a lot of smoked, braised, and stewed dishes; plenty of garlic and shallots; and flavors that are more sour than in Sichuan cuisine, which is also known for its spiciness. (Sichuan spice, however, tends to have a numbing effect, while Hunan spice is more of a vinegar-meets-chili burn.)
In Boston, Sichuan cuisine is enjoying increasing popularity, along with food from other regions of China, but Hunan proves much harder to find. Zoe’s (296 Beacon St., Somerville) does have a dedicated Hunan section of the menu, but the restaurant jumps around to other regions as well instead of zeroing in on one.
At Sumiao, Hunan cuisine is really the focus. Here’s a look at the restaurant’s debut dinner menu, which doesn’t shy away from heat in dishes such as the appropriately named beef on fire, stir-fried with a red chili sauce; Hunan tofu pot, made with pork belly, green chili, and black bean chili sauce; and “nom numb” wings with dried hot chili and peppercorn oil.
Also available at dinner: a five-course prix fixe menu for $60 per person.
The drink list features cocktails based on a Hunan rice wine as well as baijiu, a Chinese grain-based spirit most commonly made with sorghum. One cocktail, the Pyroclastic Punch, combines baijiu with Fruitlab hibiscus liquor, passionfruit cordial, and citrus ($14). There’s also Sumiao’s twist on a mai tai ($12) and a tiki drink for two with scotch, gin, baijiu, and tropical juices ($30).
When Sumiao fully opens on July 28, it’ll be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday. The space includes room for private events and a seasonal patio.
• Sumiao Hunan Kitchen Coverage on Eater [EBOS]
• Sumiao Hunan Kitchen [Official Site]