ConnieLou and were up at Young Harris College this weekend for our annual Alumni Weekend festivities. ConnieLou had already headed home for another obligation and I was staying another night. Our oldest daughter Ashley, who is a student at Young Harris now, and I decided to go out for supper last night instead of taking our chances in the dining hall. We came up with a couple of options and then asked a couple of her friends for other suggestions. The group consensus was a nearby restaurant called ‘Bowl of Asia’. I have to say I was a bit leery of the suggestion.

Now I’ve been running around northeast Georgia and western North Carolina since my days as a student at Young Harris 30 years ago and during that time period I found that good Chinese or other Oriental food is typically fairly hard to find in the area. In the past, it’s been relatively easy to find good barbeque and good ‘home cooking’. A good steak wasn’t too hard to come by and even decent Mexican food could be found without too much trouble. But Chinese/Oriental food…not so much. But things are slowly changing and in the past few years some pretty good Asian places have begun to pop up here and there. Some are ‘nicer’ places and others are best described as a ‘hole in the wall’, and are often located in a strip mall. Note, these hole in the wall restaurants shouldn’t be confused with the many Happy China/Happy Budda/China Star ‘fast food’ Chinese restaurants which also inhabit strip malls and are usually located a couple doors down from the Kroger, Publix or Ingles. As it turned out, Bowl of Asia is of the ‘hole in the wall’ variety of oriental restaurant, and yes, it’s located in a small strip mall.

Bowl of Asia specializes in Japanese, Vietnamese and Thai food and has a fairly extensive menu. I can be fairly adventurous at times when eating out and will order something that sounds different and interesting and at other times I’m more reserved and will order something familiar. I was in a reserved and familiar mood so I opted for the teriyaki beef with white rice. Ashley chose teriyaki shrimp, also with white rice.

We placed our order, and honestly, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to how fast or slow the service was. We were both pretty wiped out from the day’s festivities and as long as the server kept our water glasses filled, which he did, we were pretty content to sit and relax for a little while.

Once our food arrived we tucked in and chowed down. The teriyaki beef was described on the menu as “choice of meat sautéed with teriyaki brown sauce served with shrimp sauce and vegetables and topped with sesame seeds. Turns our Ashley’s friends made a very good recommendation as we were both quite pleased with our meals.

After supper we had a few errands to run and ended up at the Dollar General store across the highway from Gibson’s Drive-In. During our days as students at Young Harris, Gibson’s was a unique local fixture. To say it was one of the few places other than the college dining hall to get something to eat between Blairsville and Hiawassee is a bit of an understatement. At the time it was the ONLY place. It wasn’t unusual at all to drop in at supper time on a week night or most anytime on Saturday and not run into at least a handful of college kids as well as local folks. Unfortunately, during the early 2000s, enough fast food chain restaurants had opened in nearby towns that business at Gibson’s had fallen off and it closed…a tragedy in the eyes of many Young Harris College alumni. A couple of other attempts were made at operating a restaurant under different names at the location but neither was successful. Finally last year the Gibson family decided to give it another try and Gibson’s Drive-In returned from the dead. Prayers had been answered!

While the food at Gibson’s was always good, the real treat was their milkshakes, and in particular, their peanut butter milkshake. Until yesterday Ashley was not familiar with the creamy peanut buttery goodness of a Gibson’s peanut butter milkshake and I knew I had to correct that. As we walked out of the Dollar General I looked across the highway and said “Hey, you wanna get a peanut butter milkshake?” I didn’t have to ask twice. We drove over, parked, walked in and placed our order. Now maybe it’s a little weird for one to be so excited over a milkshake but I have to admit that I was. I haven’t had a peanut butter milkshake from Gibson’s in years. I also have to admit that I was filled with a mix of anticipation and dread. What if it was different? What if it wasn’t as good as I remembered? What if Ashley didn’t like it? What if that wonderful creamy peanut buttery goodness was simply no more? What if? What if?

We got our shakes, stuck our straws in the Styrofoam cup, took a sip and…

AHHHHHHHHHHH, peanut butter and ice cream ecstasy!

Just as good as I remembered! I think Ashley liked hers too but I was too caught up in my own reverie to notice.

So how did Bowl of Asia and Gibson’s rate on the Thumbs Scale? Bowl of Asia got two thumbs up from both of us. It’ll definitely be high on our list of places to revisit and try some of their other offerings. Think I’m going to have to give their sushi or sashimi a try next time around. As for Gibson’s PB milkshake, well, it got two thumbs up from both of us as well but Ashley was so impressed that she added in a couple of big toes. Now that Gibson’s is back I can see a stop for a PB milkshake becoming a must-do for our frequent trips back up to the Brasstown Valley.