A crowd sang and danced to local band Almost Owen’s rendition of Rihanna’s “Work” at the Thursday-night opening of Sumiao Hunan Kitchen in Kendall Square. The restaurant boasts that it’s the first Boston-area spot for Hunan cuisine.
Owner Sumiao Chen, from Xiangtan in Hunan, hosted the party, which included a dance floor, bites from the menu, and signature drinks, including the “Z-squeezed Dragon Fruit Daiquiri.”
Chen said she hopes the restaurant will capture Hunanese culture with a sleek but modern style. She’s the daughter of Chinese painter Peihua Chen; Sumiao means “sketch.” The restaurant’s decor, which features colorful murals, includes a re-creation of one of her father’s paintings, a bright pink work with a lotus flower that she said represents rebirth, purity, and self-awareness.
“This has been my personal dream to open up a restaurant with the food from my hometown and display art pieces from my family,” she said. “Being a first generation to this country, dreams are coming true one by one.”
Head chef Xinke Tan, who’s worked in Germany and LA, said he’s thrilled to educate Boston and Cambridge on Hunanese cuisine. “It’s hard to describe, a mix of feelings,” he said, adding that he’s “fulfilling a job, but also fulfilling a purpose.”
One of the VIP guests during the night was state Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, who was there with his husband, Bryon Hefner. Rosenberg called the new restaurant a great addition to “New England’s foodie capital.”