Sambi Canton restaurant changes name, ownership in Steamboat Springs

New recipes won’t take traditional Asian cuisine off the menu

Owner Jun Zhang, and his partner May Li, took over operations of the long-running Steamboat Springs restaurant Sambi Canton located in the Victoria Building, 941 Lincoln Ave on March 1, 2022 and have recently changed the name to Ocean Dragon.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today.

The iconic Sambi Canton restaurant in downtown Steamboat Springs has new owners along with a new name but will continue to offer the same traditional Asian cuisine it has since 1983.

The restaurant that serves Asian cuisine in the Victoria Building at 941 Lincoln Ave. has new owners after Jun Zhang and his partner May Li took over operations of the long-running Steamboat Springs restaurant on March 1 and renamed it Ocean Dragon Chinese and Sushi.

“I think now with a new owner the food is definitely more authentic than it has been for the last few years,” said Lisa Popovich, executive director MainStreet Steamboat. “I think that I was just really excited to get back there and to have some really good food.”

Zhang came to the United States six years ago from the northern region of China.

Zhang first landed in Phoenix, where he started working as a sushi chef. Then he moved to Steamboat Springs, where he worked at Fusion 720 for two years before purchasing Mount Dragon Chinese and Sushi Restaurant in Kremmling four years ago.

Now he is excited to be back in Steamboat Springs.

“This is my second restaurant,” Zhang said. “I worked in Steamboat, and I really liked Steamboat. There are so many nice people here … and that’s why I came back and bought this business.”

Ocean Dragon will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Monday.

Zhang said that the location will continue to offer many of the same items that were on the old menu including appetizers like crab cheese rangoons and fried pork dumplings and entrees like sweet and sour chicken, but will incorporate new recipes.

Customers can also expect to find the sushi chef behind the counter creating new dishes, as well as popular Chinese and Thai dishes on the menu.

The business has been a fixture in downtown Steamboat Springs since it was opened in 1983 by Siou Cheou and Ney Hoa Cheng.

Canton was named after the town where Ney Hoa was born. The couple was married in 1974 and shortly after that, they were forced into concentration camps under the Pol-pot regime.

After spending four years in concentration camps, and losing their first son to malnutrition at 3 years old, they were sponsored by Gene and Harriet Cook of Steamboat Springs and the American Red Cross to escape the war and relocate for a better life.

The couple worked and saved in order to open Canton, and they ran the business until they sold it in 1998.

The couple had planned to retire, but soon after moving, they opened and ran the successful Canton Palace Asian Bistro and Osaka Japanese Steakhouse in Loveland.

In the past 22 years, the restaurant has had different owners, moved to a new location and added Sambi to its name.

Now Zhang is hoping to write a new chapter.

“I want to make better sushi and better Chinese (food),” Zhang said. “I think I can to it better.”

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