Chin Chin Lab

If I could only eat one other food type for the rest of my life, then it’d have to be ice cream (seeing as this is a metaphorical question, I’m ignoring the very real health implications of this decision). It’s always been my favourite – the ultimate ‘treat food’. Whether gelato, frozen yoghurt, sorbet, shop-bought or homemade, I love it all.

So, imagine my excitement when I heard that there was a whole new genre of ice cream being made in Camden by disillusioned, ex-City worker Ahrash Akbari-Kalhur and his wife Nyisha. It’s labelled: ‘Europe’s first nitro ice cream parlour’, and is snuck away in deepest Camden, at the back of the Stables Market.

The two regular flavours are vanilla and chocolate –but this isn’t  just any chocolate, it’s Valrhona 66% caraïbe chocolate. Each week Ahrash makes a “very undemocratic” decision about the third flavour. It’s usually pretty experimental. On Saturday it was ‘cajeta’ – a very, very rich Mexican caramel. Other weeks have seen odder flavours:  jasmine and lychee, pancakes and maple syrup, strawberry and hay ice cream (which apparently had to be pulled early due to the chefs coming down with unbearable hayfever!)

Once Ahrash has made the syrup, he dons his lab-coat, goggles and protective gloves, and tips liquid nitrogen into the bowl using the -196C, dry ice mist to instantly freeze the liquid. Apparently the speed of freezing stops big crystals from forming – I’m not hot on science, so I can’t tell you what percentage of this is fact, and what percentage is marketing spiel…but I can tell you that the ice cream was extraordinarily smooth and creamy.

Once you’ve been handed your tub of ice cream, you’re ushered toward the topping counter (popping candy, burnt white chocolate, heather honey comb…) then the sauces (sea salted caramel, valrhona chocolate…)

I loathed (and ultimately failed )my Chemistry GCSE, but the parlour’s decor  made me long for the days of tinkering about in a lab again. Conical flasks, coloured liquids and gas canisters. Out front though, it’s still very much Camden, with swings for customers to enjoy their ice creams in this secluded, icey haven, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of The Stables.

All ice creams £3.95, which includes a topping and sauce selection
49-50 Camden Lock Place NW1 8AF
www.chinchinlabs.com

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