Grant T. Mitchell: Where to?

College can be an intimidating place when you first get there. The classes are seemingly more tied to your future and how successful you will be, stress mounts and new people come and go in your life. That’s why it’s important to find and have safe and comfortable places for yourself in college.

For me, one of those quintessential places has been Jai Dee.

I remember my first semester at UTK way, way back in the fall of 2017. I was one week into classes, still figuring out campus and carrying a printed off copy of my schedule in my pocket everywhere I was going.

It’s funny how in movies and media, freshman and tourists are kind of portrayed as one in the same. And I really must say, it’s a pretty accurate comparison.

When I walked down sidewalks and in buildings, I emitted some kind of energy that said, “I am new here.”

My clothes were fresh every day, smelling of tide detergent from having been recently washed, hair pristinely and expertly combed, and backpack neat and orderly.

Suffice it to say, I wasn’t myself.

It wasn’t until after a long day of classes and a grueling workout at the T Recs on campus that I broke down and decided to order out.

While I was going through my mental checklist of restaurants and possible meals, I passed by a well-lit and absolutely packed restaurant.

This restaurant’s name was Jai Dee, and after opening the door and inhaling the intoxicating aroma, I was hooked. Jai Dee, located at 823 Melrose Pl, Knoxville, TN 37916, has been my happy place for the past three years.

It isn’t a big storefront, but much like Sugar Ray Leonard, it may not be that big but it sure does pack one heck of a punch.

Jai Dee is a Thai and Japanese restaurant with some of the best sushi, and food, not just the downtown and campus areas, but in all of Knoxville. Couple that with the most welcoming serving staff and chef’s I have ever encountered in my life, and you have somewhere very similar to “Cheers” as it’s somewhere where everybody knows your name.

In fact, during the course of my freshman year of college I bought food from Jai Dee so often the staff could recognize my voice from phone calls and ask if I would like the usual order.

There are places that offer great atmospheres and friendly faces, and there are places that offer you great food. With Jai Dee, you get both of these things. Without the kindness and conversational nature this restaurant and the people in it offered during my freshman year, I would have had a hard time getting adjusted.

Now, here I am. A rising senior and nearly in the real world. My clothes are no longer fresh every day, my hair more often than not is disheveled as opposed to its previous pristine beauty, and my backpack has become a randomized pile of papers, books and electronics.

On the long road to this place in which I currently reside, I have changed majors twice, had some love and heartache, made lifelong friends and sufficiently found my voice and footing in college.

 But a few things have remained the same; among them, Jai Dee is still my favorite place to get food and the best restaurant on campus.

Grant Mitchell is a junior majoring in public relations. He can be reached at

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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