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Happy Bowl serves up Vietnamese fare

The appropriately named Happy Bowl restaurant in Ashland serves up a range of Vietnamese fare in giant bowls.

Located at 1401 Siskiyou Blvd., No. 3, at the junction of the boulevard and Ashland Street, the casual cafe shares a building with Valley Immediate Care and Ashland Home Center near Southern Oregon University.

I visited Happy Bowl with a friend, and we enjoyed dining al fresco on the patio outfitted with tables, chairs and umbrellas. Indoor seating is available, as well.

The appetizer Crispy Egg Rolls ($6.50) is a highlight of the menu. The slender, delicately crispy deep-fried rolls aren't overly greasy, and they come filled with pork, clear noodles, carrots and black fungus with a sweet chili dipping sauce. For a lighter version, Fresh Spring Rolls ($6.50) have a shrimp, vermicelli noodle and lettuce filling with soft rice-paper wrappers and peanut dipping sauce.

For a main course, I tried the Beef Noodle Soup with jumbo shrimp. The attentive waitress brought me a huge bowl of noodles swimming in broth. There were only five medium shrimp in the whole bowl, but the broth was flavorful and there were enough noodles for a large lunch of leftover soup the next day.

Beef Noodle Soup ranges from $8.75 to $8.95, with options that include well done steak, rare steak, shrimp, meatballs, chicken and seafood.

My friend chose Vermicelli Noodles with Egg Rolls and chose the grilled beef option. Other choices are stir-fried beef, grilled chicken and grilled pork, all for $8.95, or grilled prawns for $10.95.

Her dish came with noodles, shredded lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumber, crushed roasted peanuts and a side of sweet and sour sauce. My friend said all the ingredients were very fresh and the nuts added a tasty crunch.

In addition to noodle soup and vermicelli noodle offerings, Happy Bowl has rice, fried rice, fried noodle and chow mein menu items in the $8.95 to $14.95 range.

Vegetarian choices start at $4.75 for vegetarian fried egg rolls and go up to $7.95 for vegetarian noodle soup, vermicelli, fried chow mein and fried rice with mixed vegetables.

My friend ordered Vietnamese coffee ($3.50), a strong drink with added milk. My Passion Fruit Ice Tea ($3.50) was sweet, fruity and delicious.

Other drink choices include Thai tea, Boba milk tea and lemon soda for $3.50 and soda and hot tea for $1.50.

Happy Bowl hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, see Happy Bowl's Facebook page.

Vickie Aldous

Crispy egg rolls are a highlight at Happy Bowl in Ashland. Mail Tribune / Vickie Aldous