At the upper end of Dixon Street, in what used to be the less cultivated end of Chinatown, a cool change has hit the street with N2 Extreme Gelato opening its doors just three weeks ago. But this isn’t any gelato. As the name implies, this is extreme gelato, churned while you watch and taken to its perfect temperature with the help of liquid nitrogen.
“Nitrogen freezes so quickly that it minimises the ice crystal formation,” says Min Chai, owner and self-confessed ice cream maniac. “So when you eat it, it’s got a very smooth texture compared to a conventional batch freezer, which takes about 20 minutes. We take two minutes maximum to churn out the gelato.”
It’s literally churned while you watch and wait, with ingredients added on the go to keep them fresh. “The best gelato comes straight from the churner, not the display freezer. So by doing it this way we can replicate that moment and get that freshness, and we can incorporate ingredients as we go, which helps keep biscuit bits crunchy.”
It’s a tiny little shop, lined with black tiles and a candy coloured row of KitchenAids to do the churning, a front cabinet full of oversized science-lab flasks filled with flavours and a hell of a big vat of liquid nitrogen. But despite the laboratory feel, there’s very little that’s artificial here.
“One of my pet hates is chocolate mint that is bright green – it should never be that colour,” laughs Chai. “I don’t know how they do it, but I can never get my chocolate green.”
So far the best sellers have been caramel-infused Earl Grey and the spicy strawberry. “We also get to experiment with flavours by doing it all fresh.” Hence the tiny, but regularly changing menu. “And we try to introduce really fun stuff as well.”
As the KitchenAids mix, the nitrogen mist escapes over the edges and carries the aromas of 70 per cent cocoa chocolate or cigar smoked Hananese coffee with it. You can suggest and request flavours on the website (watch for the cough syrup flavour) and stay tuned for savoury flavours too.
As the weather heats up, Chinatown is looking very cool with N2 Extreme Gelato.
N2 Extreme Gelato
Lot 43/1 Dixon Street, Sydney