Openings and Closings

Wave Goodbye to Hand-Pulled Noodles: Blue Ocean, aka Little Chengdu, Closing May 31

May 31 is your last chance to dine at Blue Ocean/Little Chengdu.
May 31 is your last chance to dine at Blue Ocean/Little Chengdu. Molly Martin
Denver is about to lose a treasure, one of the city's few places that serves great Szechuan food.

From the outside, this small spot at 8101 East Belleview Avenue looks unassuming. The sign in front says Blue Ocean, but that name is a holdover from the previous owner; inside, the wall reads Little Chengdu. While the online menu is a laundry list of Chinese-American staples, a traditional Chinese menu is available for those who dine in, and it's loaded with dishes not commonly found in Denver, including thick, chewy, hand-pulled noodles, made to order at a small table in the back by the chef/owner, Jack Ning.

Running back and forth, cooking, taking phone orders and greeting guests, he single-handedly has kept this spot going. Until now. The complex that's home to Blue Ocean/Little Chengdu was recently sold — there are plans to redevelop it — and the eatery will close after service on May 31. After that, Ning isn't sure what he'll do.

The restaurant next door, Zane's Italian Bistro, will also have to move out. It's already found a new home, though: after closing on July 3, Zane's will reopen later that month in the former Citron Bistro space at 3535 South Yosemite Street.
click to enlarge The hand-pulled noodles will be missed. - MOLLY MARTIN
The hand-pulled noodles will be missed.
Molly Martin
Laura Shunk first wrote about the Szechuan specialties at Blue Ocean for Westword in 2017, and Blue Ocean/Little Chengdu was our pick for Best Chinese Restaurant in the Best of Denver 2022.

The loss of this spot is the latest in a string of worrisome developments for Denver's Chinese food scene. Szechuan Tasty House at 1000 West Evans Avenue recently pared down the list of Szechuan dishes it once prepared because they simply weren't popular enough. Earlier this year, the city nearly lost Noodles Express, too. The restaurant, which serves a number of Szechuan options, opened in the former Rubio's space near the Belcaro King Soopers on South Colorado Boulevard in February 2020. Two years later, it was just days away from shuttering when word spread about its fate. Droves of fans showed up to support the business, prompting the owner to renegotiate his lease with King Soopers and keeping the doors open...for now.

While Denver does have a hunger for places like this, they remain few and far between, and Blue Ocean/Little Chengdu will definitely be missed.
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Molly Martin is the Westword Food & Drink editor. She’s been writing about the dining scene in Denver since 2013, and was eating her way around the city long before that. She enjoys long walks to the nearest burrito joint and nights spent sipping cocktails on Colfax.
Contact: Molly Martin