Is this the coolest ice cream parlour in the world?

There are lab coats and gloves. There are beakers. There are goggles. There are plumes of smoke and large canisters of liquid nitrogen. And then there’s some of the smoothest ice cream I’ve ever tasted.

Husband and wife team Ahrash Akbari-Kalhur and Nyisha Weber have been making ice cream to order at the Chin Chin Laboratories in Camden, London since July 2010.

NB liquid nitrogen is not child’s play. With temperatures of around -195.79 C (or -320 F) it freezes embryos (and probably would have done a better job than carbonite on Han Solo). Its cooling powers increase the sensitivity of the infrared homing seeker heads on missiles. 

When it comes to friendlier forums; Heston Blumenthal uses it to make his frozen green tea and lime palette cleanser at The Fat Duck.

Ferran Adria found a home for it in the frozen cocktails that start a meal at El Bulli.

And at Chin Chin they  use it to make some very grown up ice cream.

A visit to the laboratories goes a little like this. First you have to make your way through the scurrying hoards of North London hipsters and into the depths of Camden market.

(Keep your eyes peeled for the swing set. It marks the spot).

If the weather is glorious, you may have to join a queue. If it’s not, well, you may still have to line up for a little while.

First you choose your flavour. There are two constants; Madagascan vanilla and Valhrona Chocolate. And then there’s the flavour of the week.

Ahrash will then put on his goggles and gloves (his hands bear the scar of what happens when the gloves slip).  Into a Kitchen-Aid mixer goes the custard and the liquid nitrogen. 

Cold steam then swirls. It’s hard not to giggle a little like a kid who’s stumbled into Hogwarts while it’s being made.

Ahrash maintains that beyond the novelty value of the nitrogen, its ability to cool the custard so quickly  results in a better ice cream. Here there’s no time for larger ice crystals to form.

Then you can choose your sauces and toppings, from slurries of fresh berries, to fresh honeycomb and popping candies.

What you end up with is some very  grown up ice cream. And a side order childish glee. 
If you get there in the next couple of days the flavour of the week will be burnt butter caramel.

In the past it’s been lychee and rosewater, lemon curd and  Alfonso mango with black pepper.

With combinations like that it’s hard to make a bad choice.

Then all that’s left is to make it last for as long as you can.

And maybe take heed when they say ‘don’t try this at home’.

Chin Chin Laboratorists 
49-50 Camden Lock Pl
London, NW1 8AF
T: 07885 604 284

Cost: £3.95 a tub (including sauce and topping)

Open:  Tue-Sun 12-7pm

Chin Chin Laboratorists on Urbanspoon

  1. Certainly one of the coolest ice cream, temperature wise:)

  2. I visited last year (on a cold, cold December day, with snow on the ground and ice on the canals).

    There's something very decadent about having ice-cream on a winter's day instead of a summer's one! Feels like bucking the system…

    Of course, I shall DEFINITELY be going back in the sunshine too!

  3. I want to go to there as well!!

    Such a grown up, right? The two on my list so far are pizza and ice cream…

  4. Burnt butter caramel, lychee and rosewater… be still my beating heart! That sounds incredible.

  5. I've heard so much about this place and I wish I was in the UK so I could visit it! It sounds wonderful! 😀

  6. oooh I keep meaning to check this out – am loving the sound of lemon curd ice cream 🙂

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