Chin Chin Laboratists, Nitro Ice-Cream Parlour, Camden


Every day I get a Wordsmith’s word in my inbox… on Thursday 9th August the word was “chin-chin” meaning “a chat,” an unusual word used as a toast, greeting or farewell, originating from the Chinese “ching-ching” (please-please) with a usage first documented in 1795. Coincidentally on that same Thursday afternoon I was attending an ice-cream parlour I’d been asked to review the previous week. The name? Chin-Chin Laboratists.

Camden is a hub of creativity and festivity: musicians play in the streets, stalls offer lovely trinkets and homemade delicacies and the place is always buzzing with people enjoying a drink by the canal. Chin chin’s experimental and fun ice-cream bar fits in perfectly. I popped along before reviewing a show completely unaware of what to expect.

It was opened and is run by husband and wife Ahrash and Nyisha, who are proud to be operating Europe’s first nitro ice-cream parlour. The tiny shop-café has limited seating space with the Willy Wonka-esque equipment taking up most of the room. The staff wear white lab coats and protective goggles and the food and experience is akin to the molecular gastronomy movement in cuisine, exemplified by famous chefs like Heston Blumenthal. Visitors choose a flavour from the eccentric specials, which change weekly and if you’re lucky the scientists will talk you through the unusual process. Once you’ve chosen your flavour, the liquid mix is fast frozen in front of you using puffs of liquid nitrogen. Mixed in a blender with the nitrogen, the ice-cream is made at startling speed. I guarantee it will bring out the child in you watching this magical transformation.

I can’t fault the ice-cream, extra smooth and creamy, wonderfully light and fluffy and bursting with flavour, it is absolutely sublime. Chin-Chin don’t do boring and the flavours reflect the couple’s obvious creativity and flair. I tried flavour of the moment, Roly-Poly, a delicate vanilla mixed with homemade strawberry jam swirled in at the end to make pretty ripples. Apparently other flavours like Blueberry Buttermilk Pancake and Orange and Bayleaf are equally delish. It is scooped elegantly into a small pot and customers are asked to choose a topping or sauce from the selection of intriguing test tubes and flasks. Some are more wacky than others, I chose shards of burnt white chocolate. My friend had the chunks of honeycomb with his vanilla.

Definitely a reason to visit Camden Lock more often…come rain or shine, Chin Chin Laboratorists serve the best ice-cream in town all year round.

Visit the Chin Chin Labs website here for more information.

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