It shouldn’t be but it can be a struggle to find real quality in Harrogate. Nor does the Studley Hotel, a pleasant but standard small hotel in a terrace close to the Valley Gardens, look as if it’s going to be the natural end to that struggle but its Pacific Rim dining room is the business.
In a smart contemporary basement, they serve up dishes from Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Vietnam, China. Normally I’d be put off by such a wide ranging menu but chef Kenneth Poon won the first Michelin star for a Chinese restaurant at the Oriental in the Dorchester, his team have cooked all over Asia and they know their stuff.
Menu starters include Korean vegetable dumplings, Japanese tempura tiger prawns or a Thai duck salad with chillis, lime juice and lemon grass. You might move on to Thai soup before bigging up on the mains. Naturally it’s best to eat with friends so you can share plenty of their excellent dishes: chicken with black bean sauce, sirloin steak tagalog, or Thai massaman – a coconut cream curry with lamb, noodles, rice and mixed veg.
If you are not sure how to put it all together the staff will steer you through or you can opt out of the decision altogether with either of the two set menus that touch all bases for between £20 and £30 a head. Tuesday is sushi and sashimi day and best of all pig out on Sunday with the whole family (kids love it) with their all-you-can-eat lunchtime buffet.