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Bursting with flavor

When a teahouse meets a creperie, the offspring is Cafe Nomyen.

The unique Ashland establishment serves Asia's beloved "bubble teas" and the Far East's interpretation of crepes.

Also known as "pearl tea" or "boba tea," the cafe's signature beverage combines either a milky tea base or fruit-flavored smoothie with black, pea-sized tapioca pearls. In lieu of tapioca, customers can choose fruit-flavored jellies or gelatinous aloe vera. Some of the more unusual beverage flavors — at least to American palates — are avocado, lychee, red bean and taro.

The pancakes at Nomyen are billed as thinner and crispier than French recipes. Baked on a ceramic hot plate and rolled into cones to cradle sweet or savory fillings, the batter contains a bit of aromatic coconut milk.

Immigrants from Laos and Thailand, Som and Pantita Phengphanh opened Nomyen in December 2010, just weeks after marrying in Thailand. Som attended culinary school at the Institute of Technology in Sacramento, Calif., and while cooking at a few local restaurants, considered opening his own eatery. When the former location of Ashland's Quiznos became available with an affordable lease, his plans bore fruit.

The couple purposely avoided the downtown tourist district, instead targeting students with affordable, novelty fare served in a contemporary, casual environment that invites hanging out. The decor even evokes a dorm room with a futon, ottomans, throw pillows and papasan chairs.

Some of the low-slung seating arrangements don't facilitate eating, particularly considering the crepes' messiness. Paper wrappings don't keep the snacks from spilling fillings and oozing sauce, leaving behind traces on diners and cafe furnishings. Grab plenty of napkins and choose dining companions who won't cringe at the sight of finger-licking.

Recommended: Baja California crepe with slices of deli turkey, avocado, cilantro, lettuce, tomato and roasted red bell pepper aioli; Thai chicken-basil crepe with grilled chicken, tomatoes, lettuce and herbed sauce; "paradise island" dessert crepe with small pieces of mango, pineapple and kiwi, vanilla-bean ice cream and mango sauce.

Alternative diets: Vegetarians can choose a three-cheese crepe or build their own from sweet fruits and avocado.

Beverages: In addition to signature bubble teas, there are hot teas and herbal blends, Thai-style iced teas and coffee and orange and apple juice.

Price range: Ice cream, $2.50; build-your-own sweet crepes, $3.50; "cafe favorite" sweet and savory crepes, $4.95.

Extras: Free wireless Internet; pleasant patio with umbrella-covered tables; located at the busy intersection of Siskiyou Boulevard and Ashland Street but straddles the two sides of Southern Oregon University's campus.

Serving: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Info: 1401 Siskiyou Blvd. No. 3, Ashland; 541-708-0777; www.facebook.com/cafenomyen.