It’s the perfect temperature in London for an ice cream. But wanting something a little bit different after a holiday of non-stop gelato eating in Rome, I wondered if London could offer up the goods.
I couldn’t have been more intrigued by Chin Chin Laboratorists slogan: “Europe’s First Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Parlour” and just had to give it a try.
At £3.95 a scoop with one choice of either sauce or a topping, I was expecting great things. Chin Chin Labs have a selection of three ice creams made from liquid nitrogen, with one being the “weekly special”. None of the staples took my fancy quite like this week’s seasonal special: white chocolate Easter egg sorbet.
The atmosphere is very much like a science lab with the server explaining step-by-step how he’s going to make your ice cream. You really do feel like you’re in a science lesson and not an ice cream parlour.
First the server puts on a very professional looking thick glove, then goes to the liquid nitrogen cylinders behind the counter and pours liquid nitrogen into a jug. It’s all very exciting because while he does this, white smoke starts to fill the room and you find yourself stepping back in anticipation.
Then after filling the jug, the server takes the liquid nitrogen and pours it over the ingredients of your choice. Uses a fancy temperature gauge. Then blends the ingredients together. Once ready the ice cream is served in a black rubber cup and shaped to leave a hole for a sauce or topping. The sauce of your choice is served from plastic lab beakers and the toppings are stored in glass cylinders.
I went for a white chocolate Easter egg sorbet with caramel sauce. It was a very creamy sorbet and could have easily been confused with ice cream, despite having no dairy. It was very sweet – perhaps too much if you’re not a keen sweet eater. But despite this, it was one of the best desserts I’ve had in London.
I would say that at the price and size of the servings, it’s not a regular student haunt. But for the atmosphere, the fun and even the fact that they are using liquid nitrogen and the staff are very friendly and explain exactly what’s going on, I would definitely recommend Chin Chin Labs for an alternative dessert experience. Hey, it could even be considered educational!
Chin Chin Labs, 49-50 Camden Lock Place, Tues-Sun 12-7pm, nearest tube: Chalk Farm.