When you think of Liquid Nitrogen or Nitrogen gas, you often think sterile environment of a laboratory where scientists clad in white coats, wearing masks are mixing chemicals using tripods, glass beakers and test tubes. You definitely do not imagine an ice cream café!
Continuing with ice cream gems in Singapore, last week, when we were walking back after the weekend grocery shopping from Little India, I noticed a blue neon sign on a shop at Mackenzie Road, that read “320 Below – Nitro Cream Café”. Actually the thing that caught my attention was the face that nothing about that name written on bright blue board made much sense.
Intrigued we walked to the shop and realized that it was in fact an Ice Cream Café. The entire décor looked almost like a kids birthday party.
One side of the shop is covered from floor to ceiling in coloured, painted paper glasses. On a closer look you realize that the glasses actually have handmade designs on it! Quite impressive! There is a small seating next to wall with multi-coloured stools around tables. So far so good.
The other side of the café has two large blackboards that display the various flavours of ice cream actually available. Their menu is divided into regular flavours such as banana, coffee, lychee, some off beat options (still covered under the regulars section) like lemon, apple cinnamon, salted caramel, sweet potato (really!), ginger honey to name a few. Then they have a few premium flavours like Thai Coconut, Dark Chocolate and alcoholic flavours including lychee martini, tiamaria coffee, Kahlua etc. Interestingly they had written “Blue Cheese” Right at the end of the board, which had my eyebrows figurative reaching my hairline in disbelief. Blue Cheese Ice Cream?? I was already intrigued.
“Where’s the ice cream?” I whispered to my husband… for there was nothing on display. Where usually the ice-cream should be, lay 4 kitchen aid-mixers in bright colours. My husband pointed at a board and smiled, “They will make your ice cream fresh. It’s a flash ice cream place… I have read about this.”
Ice cream made in a flash, before your eyes… what fun.
Here’s a video of the how the ice-cream is actually made.
 The flavour you order, the actual ingredient without preservative flavour is mixed with milk, cream and little bit of sugar syrup. The ingredients are put in the kitchen aid mixer bowl.
 While the ingredients mix in the mixer, Liquid Nitrogen is released (almost -320 degrees), which flash freezes the mixture in a flash and your ice cream is done!
So we finally ended up trying:
 Thai Coconut: it’s creamier, and not so sweet that you cannot taste the flavour of coconut… In fact the thin coconut pieces actually enhance the texture of the ice cream. I can safely say that it is one of the better coconut ice creams I have tasted so far.
 Rum and Raisin: The first question that came to my mind when I saw the rum and raisin ice cream was, that it is definitely whiter than most rum and raisins I have tried. The flavours were well-blended and subtle. They were not too strong and in your face, but the ice cream and rum gel well with the small pieces of raisin. A caveat, those used to strong rum flavour in the ice cream may find the ice cream tad bland.
Finally, there is something in it for pure vegetarians… for there’s no egg in the ice cream! Here are a few Nitro Facts.
So intrigued was I with the whole process and the taste of the ice creams we tried, that I started chatting with Keith Roger, the ice cream enthusiast who owns the place. “Each Ice cream is freshly made using liquid nitrogen who temperature is below -320 degrees Celsius. We add all the fresh ingredients together and use the Nritrogen gas to create ice cream.” What’s special about the ice cream, that other ice creams do not have? “Since each order is freshly made, we do not need to use any preservatives in the ice cream, we add very little sugar, and we do not use emulsifiers or artificial flavours either!” No artificial flavours, interesting.
Nitrogen, by itself sounds a little laboratory like… is it absolutely safe for consumption? “Nitrogen just disappears… it evaporates in the air. In face it is perfect mate for food, as it does not mix or react with food. And there is no residue left by the process. So it is absolutely safe!” He points me to the two posters…
They have some unique flavours here. Ginger honey, sweet potato… blue cheese! Do people actually try these?? “For those who understand like the flavour of blue cheese, it blends in beautifully with dark chocolate. And yes, we have quite a few adventurous customers who want to try it out.”
Finally, considering the fact that the ice creams are made from scratch, do you cater to customization? Can you mix and match as per the customer’s wishes. “We often do… although at times if the mix and match is just too out there, we do make suggestions about whether or not the flavours would blend. But you would surprised at how innovative they can get. For example, One of our regulars here loves blue cheese with rum and raisin!”
How much does it cost: A scoop of ice cream costs any where between S$ 4.80 to approximately 6+ dollars depending up whether you go for regular or special flavours.
Verdict: I always go to an ice cream parlour with the enthusiasm of a child. It’s like Disney land. But to be treated to something so fun is a different experience. They make your ice cream before your eyes, and you can actually enjoy the watching the whole process! What’s more, you can try and create your own special ice cream by mixing flavours right there. It’s enjoyable, beyond just the taste of ice cream. Furthermore they have some really great flavours, and the overall quality of the ice cream is good, flavours subtle and natural. Probably the only thing that intrigued me was the fact that they are open just 3 days a week – weekend. Querying about that, Ken replied “we were facing some staff issues. So we operate it from Friday to Sunday 2pm to mid-night. But we are working towards it, and hopefully should be back to the 7 day week!” It’s definitely worth a try, if not for the flash ice cream itself, then the fact that you can create your own mix and match flavour!
Address: #01-01, 33 Mackenzie Road, Near Rex Cinema, Little India Singapore 228686
Timings: Friday to Sunday 2pm to 11pm