By Katie Thomas EBS Contributor
BOZEMAN – The Hummingbird’s Kitchen is Bozeman’s own Chinese pop-up kitchen, headquartered in the Emerson Cultural Center, offering pop-up dinners, cooking classes and private events.
Opened in 2013 and operated solely by Shanghai native Linda Huang, The Hummingbird’s Kitchen’s hands-on cooking classes are offered twice per month, and pop-up dinners happen once a month.
If you’ve never heard the term “pop-up restaurant” before, this means that the establishment operates at variable hours, and possibly in assorted locations; it is not a typical restaurant with consistent hours in a regular location.
So what is a pop-up dinner at The Hummingbird’s Kitchen like? In a word, savory. Once patrons find the small and somewhat obscure dining space in the Emerson, they sit around a large, square table with about 10 others.
A typical five-course meal may consist of a traditional Shanghainese appetizer plate of dried shrimp with cilantro, smoked fish, braised duck in brown sauce, woody mushrooms with smoked tofu, “drunken” chicken, and pickled radish; shrimp dumpling soup; steamed meatballs; braised pork belly with five spices; stir-fried sugar snap peas with lily buds; and “Eight Treasure Rice.”
Patrons bring their own alcoholic beverages, which helps keep the cost of the meal down. The idea is to get to know the food and your fellow diners.
Cooking classes are a little more involved. Diners attending these events are in it for the knowledge and experience of creating the food, as well as enjoying the flavors.
Huang not only teaches customers the recipes—including preparation techniques, equipment recommendations, and copies of the recipes to try at home—she also gives a presentation about the region where each dish originates, the history, and culture surrounding her recipe choices. Then comes the best part—you get to eat it.
Huang named The Hummingbird’s Kitchen after her own cooking style. “I am always busy, buzzing around the kitchen, I love to eat—I never stop, like a hummingbird!” she says with a laugh.
The business was created after multiple requests for private eating tours of Shanghai. Friends who ate her creations wanted to visit Huang’s homeland with her, and eat their way around China. This was not something Huang was able to do, so she decided to bring her dinners to the Gallatin Valley.
Huang is passionate about bonding with others over quality food. “Sharing is conducive to freshness,” she explains. “You have to have connections with food, the area, the people. Chinese food is about sharing. You can always put out an extra chopstick, my grandma used to say.”
Huang says she likes to test people’s edge.
“Pork belly, for example, scares some people. I like to cook the interesting, the authentic, the ‘weird.’ Chinese food culture has influenced many other Asian cuisines, especially Japanese and Thai—its influence is everywhere. It’s the foundation of so much cuisine.”
The Hummingbird’s Kitchen’s pop-up dinners and cooking classes are the ultimate pleasure for foodies, and for anyone who generally enjoys intimate, gourmet, and unusual dining adventures.
Visit thehummingbirdskitchen.com or call (406) 551-0645 for more information about The Hummingbird’s Kitchen.