chin chin labs (liquid nitrogen ice cream parlour)
It’s not often that us Londoners complain about it being TOO hot, but the last few days have been pretty unbearable. The bright side to the spell of scorching heat? Perfect ice cream weather! I’ve been eating my fair share of the stuff (as well as fro-yo and a lot of gelato from the fabulous Cocorino and Gelupo), and on Sunday I braved the Camden crowds to check out The Chin-Chin Laboratorists, touted as the first liquid nitrogen ice cream parlour in Europe.
The ice cream parlour is, as the name would suggest, fashioned as a laboratory of sorts with a 180-litre tank of nitrogen, shelves brimming with beakers and flasks filled with sauces and toppings, and servers clad in white lab coats and safety goggles. We picked our flavours – there are only three to choose from: Madagascan Vanilla Bean (with fresh mint), Valrhona Chocolate and Lemon Curd, the daily special. Owner Ahrash Akbari-Kalhur makes the ice cream on the spot, first pouring the ice cream custard mixture into the shiny new Kitchen-Aid mixers then adding liquid nitrogen, before whipping it all up into thick creamy ice cream.
Akbari-Kalhur explained that as the mixture freezes instantly, there are no ice crystals, so the resulting ice cream is denser and smoother. We bring our freshly-churned ice cream over to the next counter to choose our toppings, a selection which included macadamia brittle, caramelised almond and violet marshmallows.
B really enjoyed his pairing of hazelnut crunch and raspberry coulis with his lemon curd ice cream as it was reminiscent of lemon cheesecake, which he loves.
I couldn’t resist the chocolate coated popping candy and salted caramel sauce which was a lovely indulgent combo with my vanilla. I didn’t pick up any hint of the advertised fresh mint in my ice cream, but it was indeed extremely velvety in texture. However the denseness made it seem a whole lot richer, and for me a lighter option of nitro sorbet would have been preferable (they do offer it as the special on certain days).
A fun, if somewhat gimmicky concept which appears to already be a real hit with the tourists (clever choice of location). With one mixer allocated to each flavour, equipment is clearly a constraint, but an offering of three variations leaves one wanting and it would be nice to see a couple more permanent fixtures. Hopefully that will be rectified with time.
The Chin-Chin Laboratorists
49-50 Camden Lock Place
London NW1 8AF
t. 07885 604 284