Review: Golden Bay, Holzhalbinsel Rostock
We do not have to pretend that the Rostock restaurant scene is as diverse as it should be for a city that has not only established itself as as a prime tourist destination nationally and internationally, but which also aspires to be the modern metropolitan hotspot in an otherwise quite backward region.
We also do not have to go far to look for reasons. Us Germans (or maybe specifically us “Mecklenburger”) like it simple: meat, potatoes and preferably all mashed up nicely with a gallon of sauce.
No other cuisine seems to quite fit the obesity-inducing, artery-clogging bill as well as our own. So, we stick to it.
One nationality, however, makes a good living out of foreign cuisine here: the Vietnamese.
Vietnamese people came to Rostock as contract workers following the second World War, were allowed to stay here during GDR times (yay to Communism) and stuck around to give us one of Rostock’s favourite fast-foods highlights: The “China Pfanne”.
Until 17th August 2017 there were only a few Asian restaurants in Rostock which actually had tables to sit down at, instead of just a counter to wait at while the chef tipped your food right out of the frying pan into a take-away-container.
The Golden Bay opened on that August day on the “Holzhalbinsel”, which is coincidentally (or maybe not) right next to the AIDA, Centogene and Telefonica headquarters, which provide a couple of thousand hungry office workers everyday at lunch.
So, of course, it offers an evening and a lunch buffet, and à-la-carte dishes.
Whatever our European minds imagine to be Asian, especially dishes like Nasi-Goreng, a selection of dumplings, sushi and of course spring rolls, can be found on the menu of this new nicely designed and elegantly decorated restaurant.
By the way, the owners of the “Golden Bay” are the only actually Chinese chefs to have opened up a restaurant in Rostock, the competition being, of course, all Vietnamese.
The criteria behind the choice of dishes, whether buffet or à-la-carte, appear to be simple: classic Asian food that we know, nothing too experimental, nothing too fancy.
We ordered the classic buffet, which featured spring rolls, noodles, duck and chicken of course, a sushi selection and, to our surprise, chicken wings.
And we got exactly what we expected: a borderline authentic Chinese meal that catered to all the five taste groups (salty, spicy, sour, sweet and bitter). Of course, in order to taste as much food as possible, we had to go all out on the buffet, which led to us shamelessly overeating, but at least we tried pretty much everything that the “Golden Bay” lunch buffet had to offer.
Considering that they are essentially feeding people that frown upon foreign cuisine, this broad selection of Asian food makes it seem positively authentic to us non-experts. The only things an Asian person would criticise would probably be the not-so-authentic seasoning adapted to our weak European tongues, the dining chairs that have the British flag printed on them, and the aforementioned chicken wings. – Which, all things considered, is a big improvement in terms of authenticity when you compare Golden Bay to other Rostock-based eating establishments.
They make a fine job of putting together the highlights of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese cuisine, which for most of us are all the same anyway, and have created a central, cozy but elegant and, critically, not-too-fancy restaurant that is as fitting a venue for a quick office lunch as it is for a nice dinner out.
Sadly, us Rostockians just do not care enough to distinguish between Nasi-Goreng and Bami-Goreng, but we sure appreciate the modest price of €8.99 for the lunch buffet (€12.99 for the full-on evening buffet, including an Teppanyaki Grill)
Let’s face it: proper authentic Asian or Chinese food would not really sell well in Rostock. Too much broth, not enough carbs. So, can we have a go at them for putting fries on the menu? Not really.
All things considered, we liked “Golden Bay”. Even though the waitress wasn’t that impressed by our expertly spoken Mandarin.
Katja Plaß and Kim Weidemann