Is nitrogen ice cream worth the hype?
If you follow me on Snapchat, you'll know I made it out to LIK N2 Ice Cream last night, Vancouver's very first ice cream shop to specialize in nitrogen-churned ice cream.
In the heat of summer, nothing satisfies quite like a frozen treat. Located across the Robson Library Square, LIK N2 Ice Cream offers all kinds of diet-breaking sundae concoctions featuring toppings like chocolate ganache, torched meringue, and cheesecake bites to name a few. The nitrogen-churning process encourages each serving to be made to order and creates a smoother and creamier texture after instantaneously cooling the ice cream base to negative degrees.
It was a unique experience watching the process behind flash freezing ice cream. I can only imagine the science that goes behind balancing the ice cream base with its freezing point as I watched the liquified gas produce mesmerizing foggy effects that I wish lasted longer. Although incorporating nitrogen into ice cream appeared to be an intricate process, each novelty didn't take long to assemble together which kept the steady stream of customers happy.
Venturing out with my partner in crime, of course we couldn't resist ordering the Matcha Azuki, Vietnamese Coffee Crumb, and Mango Extreme after coming straight from dinner.
I personally enjoyed both the velvety and custard-like consistency of the nitrogen ice cream. The Vietnamese Coffee was my favourite because of the bold flavours and the added dimension of the cookie crumbs. I thoroughly enjoyed this one without the additions of whipped cream and condensed milk that would've came with the sundae.
Matcha, on the other hand, was a tad too sweet so it tasted more like a matcha latte — which isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's all personal preference! However, one of my greatest wish for dessert shops is to put more love into their toppings. The red beans were solid and not overly sweetened but I found the mochi bits to be too hard and they tasted doughy. They weren't made in house and I could've done without them. The syringe of matcha white chocolate condensed milk goodness was sweet but well flavoured.
Mango Extreme was on the lighter side. It's essentially mango sorbet, topped with mango bits, plus a syringe of condensed milk. I'm probably the last person you want reviewing mango desserts because personally, a fresh mango is a treat itself. Having said that, I found this Mango Extreme a more refreshing option compared to the other cream based flavours.
So the big question: is nitrogen ice cream worth the hype?
To watch the clouds of smoke form from the liquid nitrogen, the flash freeze of the ice cream batter in the electric mixer; that's all fun and entertaining. I especially love that its made to order and appreciate its creamier texture. However, the novelty isn't quite enough for me to distinguish their ice cream from frozen custard. Perhaps if the flavours were more unique and if the toppings were more creative and of better quality, I'd be more excited about it. It would also make an impact if they advertised the ingredients they use in the batter. If there are no added stabilizers or emulsifiers used in the ice cream base, I'm sure health-conscious Vancouverites would value that.