A couple of months ago, while on a “crew trip” to Hong Kong, we walked past this sidewalk kiosk which was causing quite a ruckus. Hong Kong always seem to have people lining up for good restaurants, noodle places, shops, etc., so a line in and of itself wasn’t sufficient to stop us in our tracks after a very hearty dinner.
But with some 40-50 people milling around, watching young Chinese crew members dressed in shorts and t-shirts printed with suits and neckties (huh?!) playing with fire (oops, no I meant liquid ice) sending smoke billowing both inside and outside the kiosk, DID make me incredibly curious. We decided we needed to FORCE ourselves, note the word FORCE ourselves to order a few scoops of liquid nitrogen made ice cream in the name of “research” and broadening our food experiences… :)
They had only four flavors on offer (they change every two weeks) and two of those were already sold out, so we ordered two cups of mango and two cups of apple crumble. Each cup cost roughly US$5-6, quite expensive even with the theatrics, high rent and snazzy kiosk (you can buy a pint of Haagen Daz for that amount)! You get a number, your order is made fresh, and after say a 10 minute wait, you are called to claim your cup(s) of ice cream.
In a standard Kitchen Aid mixer (plastered with the Lab’s stickers) with paddle attachment, you add good cream to the mixing bowl…
…then some stewed apples (probably heavily sweetened)…
…some liquid nitrogen from an insulated pitcher (the kind you might use for coffee or a cold drink…
…and you mix it all up, sending clouds of cold vapor everywhere. Essentially, the incredibly cold liquid nitrogen transforms the cream and fruit instantly into ice cream! The process is supposed to yield an incredibly smooth and creamy ice cream, and I thought it met some of those claims, but I also worried that the quick production time meant there wasn’t enough “churning” of cream going on.
I have to admit, I was intrigued and amused by the set-up, but it was a tad too gimmicky for me (then again, at 50, I must have been one of the older customers in line).
The apple crumble flavor was good (topped with if I recall correctly, some almost freeze dried textured crumble, but I think the emphasis was more on the show, the process, rather than the quality of the ice cream.
The mango ice cream was a slightly less appealing for a couple of reasons… the mangoes paled in comparison with our own back home, and they oddly topped the final produce with bits of pomelo, huh? Overall, it was a rather novel experience. But that’s it. A novel experience.