Imagine you're talking to your ten-year-old self. You ask yourself what the coolest place in the world would be. A possible answer? “A crazy scientist’s lab where instead of carrying out chemical experiments, they make really yummy ice cream." Well believe it or not, there's such a place. We're talking about N2 Extreme Gelato on Dixon Street.
This gelataria looks nothing like an average ice cream shop. At the front are large beakers filled with colourful liquids. There is no display case with a hefty array of ice cream flavours laid out for you to choose from. Instead, a black board outlining flavours such as peanut butter and jelly, earl grey and caramel, buttered popcorn or sour cream chocolate is all you have. The rest is up to your imagination.
The ingredients are left to infuse in beakers in the fridge; once you've chosen, they pick out your flavour and pour it into one of the colourful kitchen aids that dot the bench top and churn it with a magical looking blast of liquid nitrogen.
The result is ice cream that is incredibly creamy and so fresh; the peanut butter and jelly tastes exactly like the real deal, served with a topping of strawberry jam that you can stir though. The earl grey and caramel tastes of creamy caramel rather than the overly sugary version. You can feel little shells of kernels in the buttered popcorn; when one of the staff heard me exclaim this, he held up the beaker, which was stuffed with whole popcorn kernels and said with a grin, “that's because there is real popcorn in it!”
Each scoop is $6 but the servings are huge, as their black board states, two scoops costs 'you don't need it'. The staff are incredibly friendly and reflect the tongue in cheek, eccentric vibe of the place. There are anatomical diagrams on the wall, a plush Facebook 'like' symbol on the counter and signs about necessary eye protection. It all adds to the fun, almost cartoon-like aesthetic of N2 Extreme Gelato.
With ice cream good enough to rival Messina's, that is equally fun to order as to eat, this place should be on your summer 'must do' list, perfect after a salty or spicy meal in chinatown. Just don't expect any of the flavours you've read about to be there because they change weekly. The website takes suggestions for flavours; ask for one today and it might be in the shop by the time you visit next week.