Camden Lock and London’s first nitro ice-cream parlour

Camden Lock

Camden Lock

If you find yourself in London on a hot sunny Sunday there are few better places to while away the time than along the canal in Camden. Selling itself as the boho centre of London this area long ago opened its doors to the mainstream. Among its more traditional gothic clothing stores you’ll find plenty of places for the well heeled and the casual tourist to spend their money.

I wanted to visit Camden yesterday having read about Chin Chin Laboratorists – perhaps the strangest name you’ll ever find for an ice-cream parlour. Promoted as London’s first nitro ice-cream bar, you’ll instantly know this is not Haagen Dazs, as owners Ahrash and Nyisha greet you in clincal white lab coats. Concoctions are created with three base flavours, chocolate, vanilla and lemon cheesecake (in the name of research we had to try them all), with various toppings available to finish off your treat. The ice cream mix is dipped in liquid nitrogen (-190C) and freezes into ice-cream in four seconds in front of your eyes. Ahrash explained (wearing his safety goggles and gloves) that the nitrogen allows the ice-cream to have the perfect consistency without the need for additives or emulsifiers, meaning less fat without compromising on flavour.

Ice cream maker or mad scientist?

Ice cream maker or mad scientist? Ahrash creates a new concoction at Chin Chin Labs

The unit is tiny and can hold no more than half a dozen people at a time, and with only the two owners making the ice-creams and taking payments it’s never going to be a very high volume business. Three swings are available outside where customers can enjoy their ice-creams while watching the crowds wander by.

Chin Chin opens officially on July 15th. It’s an eye-catching concept, the owners are very friendly and willing to chat with their customers and I really wish them well in their new business. Nyisha told me she’d always wanted to own an ice-cream shop since she was a child; how many of us get to live out our dreams in this way?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention: every one of the three flavours was delicious, but I most enjoyed the chocolate, made from Valrhona cocoa.

International hot food at Camden Lock

International hot food at Camden Lock

After our ice-creams we wandered around the back of the unit to the canal side, where we found the most impressive selection of foods: Polish (including home-made doughnuts that took me back to my childhood memories); Peruvian, Turkish and Brazilian among others. Each stall was selling hot food and was adorned with flags, while some even had pictures of their native land. Sadly by this time I was too full of ice-cream to have an appetite for any of these wonderful smelling dishes. Camden Lock will require another visit soon…

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7 Responses to “Camden Lock and London’s first nitro ice-cream parlour”

  1. No way – I have never ever heard of anything like Chin Chin. Liquid nitrogen ice cream? What a cool concept! I’ll definitely stop by once it’s open (and maybe once the opening queues have died down) How fun!

    Thanks for the tip Andy!

    Kathryn @Travelfusion

    July 12, 2010 at 12:22 pm
  2. Lab coats and liquid nitrogen! Sounds like a great twist on the ice cream concept. I’m gonna have to find time to get there. As far as im concerned one flavour is sufficient, chocolate! Though i guess three flavours combined could lead to triple choc overload.

    July 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm
  3. Well that’s an original concept! Too bad I’m not in Camden anymore, I would’ve been a regular customer, that’s for sure!

    I’m glad there are still people daring to start an unusual business out there, rather than settle and open yet another branch of some well known brand.

    July 12, 2010 at 3:28 pm
  4. Yep a great day out around Camden Lock- not done the ice cream though- will check out this weekend – Grant

    July 12, 2010 at 7:47 pm
  5. Thanks for the comments – it is an unusual combination isn’t it: nitrogen and ice-cream. Guess you guys will just have to go and try it for yourselves – don’t forget to report back!

    July 12, 2010 at 11:04 pm
  6. Another food place to add to my growing list of places to visit when I finally get to London – wait, is ice cream food??

    July 13, 2010 at 1:03 am
  7. Of course ice-cream is food Barbara 🙂 I’ll remind you when you come to London to give it a try. Camden Market in itself is worth the visit.

    July 13, 2010 at 11:29 pm