The Chin Chin Laboratorists is Europe's first “Nitro Ice-cream Parlour”, and it is totally awesome. Opened by husband and wife team Ahrash Akbari-Kalhur and Nyisha Weber, the place looks like a mad scientist's lab with test tubes, white coats and liquid nitrogen tanks – it’s unashamedly geeky, yet somehow very cool – for whatever reason, hip, diverse, eclectic Camden feels like the perfect place for it.
The concept is simple - liquid nitrogen, at -196˚C, freezes the egg custard mixture instantly, thus resulting in no ice particles, and ice cream with a much smoother texture. So, there are no tubs of ready-made ice cream here – you choose from three options - Madagascan Vanilla, Valrhona Chocolate and a special of the week (Basil Chocolate Chip on this visit), then stand back and watch the show unfold as the staff make your ice cream right in front of you. First, Nyisha handed a flask of the custard mixture to Ahrash, who got some liquid nitrogen out of the tank; then it was gloves and glasses on as he whisked them together, and within a matter of seconds, the ice cream was formed. One cup of ice cream was £3.95 (considerably more expensive than your regular ice cream, but then again, this is no normal ice cream) and came with one topping and one sauce - on Ahrash’s recommendation, I opted for the Sea Salted Caramel sauce, and Grilled White Chocolate topping.
Even if the ice cream had turned out to be a complete let down, I would still have happily advocated a visit to The Chin Chin Laboratorists as a fun, novel experience. But the ice cream was indeed as good as advertised – it was velvety smooth, yet also quite dense – both characteristics to be expected from liquid nitrogen ice cream, with the slightly salty caramel sauce and unusual, crunchy Grilled White Chocolate topping enhancing and adding to the uniqueness and specialness of the whole offering even further.
In a nutshell...
This place is great just for the sheer theatre of the liquid nitrogen ice cream-making process; and the ice cream itself ain’t half bad either. Be warned – the very nature of the concept means queues can get quite long, especially during the weekends, but I assure you, it’s well worth the wait. As with Dans le Noir?, I have once again declined to give The Chin Chin Laboratorists my usual rating out of 10 – that would be doing it an injustice - it is an ice cream parlour sui generis. I thoroughly recommend it.
The Chin Chin Laboratorists
49-50 Camden Lock Place, London, NW1 8AF
Average Price: £3.95
Worth noting: Closed Mondays