Noodles in Denver Chinese Food Restaurant Blue Ocean / Little Chengdu in DTC
What: All noodle dishes
Or: Asian Cuisine of the Blue Ocean (aka Little Chengdu)
When: Open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
For more information: Visit orderblueoceancuisine.com
The place: In this very sparsely decorated and very under the radar location in a Denver Tech Center mall, I only saw two other parties on a Monday night. I had ventured south to try the new one WingWok, but a sign on the door said it will be closed Monday through July 26 (even though its social media says otherwise). Thanks for the info, sign.
Hungry and now challenged to pick a new destination for dinner, a different sign came to my mind: the one that reads Blue Ocean (a leftover relic from the previous space tenant) outside of Little. Chengdu, which I discovered thanks to a 2017 Westword Laura Shunk story.
I hadn’t eaten there since before the pandemic; in a recent conversation with a friend, we wondered if he had survived and, if so, still made sichuan and other regional Chinese specialties that we (and Shunk) had so enjoyed in the pass. There was no way to find out online, as Blue Ocean – which I’ll call “the restaurant” to help people find the place – only lists the Americanized version of its menu there. It offers everything you would expect from a typical Chinese place in the United States: spring rolls, sesame chicken, kung pao beef, fried rice. Even the very un-Chinese pad thai makes its appearance. Basically, it aims to appeal to the Tech Center lunch crowd and largely undiversified homeowners in this part of town.
I have never tried any of these dishes, so I cannot comment on Blue Ocean’s ability to prepare them. I was hungry for something else: noodles. When I arrived the place was very quiet (not even background music), and yet another sign asked me to ring to get the owner’s attention, which I did. Right next to that bell was the Chinese menu I was hoping to find. A very, very good sign, indeed.
What you are eating : The Chinese menu, which has English translations – but certainly not in very descriptive language – is long and filled with dishes much less commonly found in Denver than Orange Chicken: pork ears, sliced and served in a tub. chili oil; fried frog; black mushrooms with braised pork; hot and spicy pork intestines. Many of them have textures and flavors that you have to get used to if you haven’t grown up eating them.
I always tried to push my culinary limits when I had the option, so I ordered pork ears and enjoyed the flavor very much, although the high cartilage texture was harder to sell. . But I’ll eat anything soaked in chili oil, so I made a few before focusing on the other dishes on the table.
I had opted for the knife-cut noodles, which are thick and filling and served as a soup with cabbage, a few pieces of widely diced tomatoes (which add a nice touch of refreshing but sweet acidity) and rare pieces of pork – although the noodles are the main event – in a soft, clear broth. In a recent post on a no-broth pho roll, I admitted that I didn’t like broth very much – but this dish could mark a turning point in my journey of appreciating soup. It has all the comforts of chicken noodle soup, but with much more depth and flavor, which gets stronger with every sip.
My favorite item this tour, however, was the dan dan noodles. Other places in town serve this Szechuan minced pork dish in a dark, spicy sauce served on a thick spaghetti-like tangle of noodles (notably, Lao Wang Noodle House), but my dinner partner quickly stated that it ‘was the best version he’ I tasted. If Blue Ocean were closer to downtown and just focused on their noodle game, they would have a queue for this dish alone.
While we didn’t get the hand-drawn noodles this trip, those are also noteworthy, especially if you like thick, wide noodles with a bite. They’re crammed with chunks of pork that are bigger than those in knife-cut noodle soup, along with bean sprouts and cabbage in a sauce that’s a little hot but not too spicy.
All the noodles are prepared by the owner who prepares them at a small station outside the kitchen entrance, working the dough and pulling the noodles with fascinating efficiency. He works solo and handles both front and back house operations, so book your visit for when you’re in no rush.
As I watched bag after bag of takeout being brought to the counter, I felt a hint of sadness for the people at home in their Tech Center apartments who were waiting for a delivery of sesame chicken while missing out on the real magic. of that. place.
Until Blue Ocean adds these specialties to its online ordering options, do yourself a favor and take the trip to try them out. And if you find more love on the menu, tell me about [email protected].