Liquid nitrogen is hardly a conventional key ingredient when you think of gelato, but a new gelato bar in Sydney’s Chinatown called N2 Extreme Gelato has popularised this instant method of creating frozen goodies to great success.
N2 Extreme Gelato has drawn in the crowds with the novelty of watching their lab coat wearing staff busily making the gelato flavours to order. It is fascinating to watch them pour brightly coloured cream combinations in scientific glass containers into big electronic mixers and then blasting it with a shot of liquid nitrogen to freeze it straight away. After the smoke from the substance dissipates, the result is an intensely flavoured scoop of gelato served either in a sundae cup or waffle cone.
Their eccentric menu is scribbled in white chalk up on the big blackboard behind the serving counter and features bizarre sounding flavours like cough syrup and cigar smoked Hainanese coffee. Apart from those, they also have more mouthwatering combinations like my personal favourites of Earl Grey caramel and buttered popcorn (which has real flakes of crushed popcorn in it!). As you can see from the pictures, each scoop of gelato is pretty massive and it’s more than enough to share between 2 people – which is why their menu even cheekily lists the price for 2 scoops as “you won’t need it”.
Earl grey caramel gelato, 1 scoop for $6
After several visits to N2 with different groups of friends, I think I’ve sampled around 70% of their flavours. I’ve found that I much prefer their cream based flavours to their sorbet flavours which are ice based. The creamy ones (like the Earl Grey caramel and cheesecake flavours) are incredibly smooth in consistency and rich in flavour while the sorbet ones (like cough syrup and green tea with pepper) weren’t as strongly flavoured and melted into watery slushes relatively quickly.
The flavours on offer at N2 change daily depending on availability and quite a few popular flavours do end up selling out. It looks like they also offer seasonal flavours such as their mooncake gelato and White Rabbit candy flavour to celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival which just passed. We were big fans of their adorable White Rabbit candy flavour which brought back fond childhood memories of this classic Chinese milk lolly treat and it seriously tasted even better in creamy gelato form! Bonus points to them for tossing in a couple of actual White Rabbit candies for you to eat with the gelato.
White Rabbit candy with milk gelato, 1 scoop for $6
The vibe of the shop is very energetic and N2 really plays up the scientific theme in their décor, with big aluminium canisters of liquid nitrogen kept behind cages in a corner and framed anatomical drawings. There’s not a lot of seating available with a long bar table along one wall and several brightly coloured round metal barrels serving as tables. Most people seem to end up getting takeaway gelato rather than eating in.
It’s easy to dismiss a liquid nitrogen gelato bar as just a fad, but I hope that N2 stays around and keeps pumping out their zany, fun gelato flavours for us all to enjoy. It’s quickly become one of my favourite after dinner destinations for a sweet treat to cap off the night.
N2 Extreme Gelato
43/1 Dixon St
Sydney, NSW 2000