Cool N2

Special thanks to Cool N2 for extending this food review invitation.

Originating from Taiwan, Cool N2 (分子虎) opened its first Malaysian outlet at Elit Avenue last week. This shop is located just next to another ice cream shop, Sangkaya. While this is not my first encounter with liquid nitrogen ice cream, it is indeed my first one in Penang.
According to the proprietors of this business venture, the spark came from an episode of Taiwanese talk show Kangxi Lai Le (康熙来了) which featured the flagship stall in Taipei. Realizing the business potential here, they traveled to Taiwan immediately to secure master franchising rights in Malaysia. Now, that's fast!
Unlike pre-frozen ice cream sold by Baskin-Robbins and Häagen-Dazs, liquid nitrogen ice cream is prepared from the spot from raw ingredients and chilled on the spot using liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen finds numerous practical applications ranging from cryogenics to molecular gastronomy. This industrial is relatively cheap to produce and its by-product, nitrogen gas, is largely harmless. At standard atmospheric pressure, nitrogen boils at -195.79oC, which is way colder than water ice (0oC) or dry ice (-78.5oC).
To prepare liquid nitrogen ice cream, milk ingredients and accompanying flavoring are combined in a mixer. Flasks of liquid nitrogen are then emptied into the mixing bowl, causing the mixture to freeze rapidly. After a couple of minutes, the mixture attains gelato-like consistency. Since liquid nitrogen is much colder than regular ice, ice cream prepared from the former has significantly smaller ice crystals than the latter's. This explains why the liquid nitrogen ice cream tends to be more compact and smoother in texture.
For starters, Cool N2 is introducing 6 of the bestselling flavors in Taiwan. Winnie The Pooh (小熊维尼, RM16.90) is the recommended flavor especially for first-timers. The ice cream is named so due to the use of honey as topping. More honey is also provided in a syringe. Corn flakes are also added for crispy appeal. Among the 6 versions, this is the ideal one to really enjoy liquid nitrogen ice cream for what it really is.
For matcha lovers, Genmaicha Popcorn (玄风抹茶, RM16.90) offers green tea flavoring with speckles of roasted brown rice (玄米). Rice grains provide crispy mouthfeel and distinctive husk-like aroma. Chocolate chips are added on top, but I am not sure whether it is the best idea because chocolate appears disjoint from the ice cream. Perhaps it would be nicer to add boiled red beans into the mix instead.
Sunny Day Beach (夏日沙滩, RM16.90) features Lotus biscuits, a popular brand of biscoff cookies from Belgium. Several pieces are crushed and added to the ice cream, giving it crumb-like texture and pleasant caramelized flavor. A couple of Lotus biscuits are also provided on top.
Black Bomber (黑色轰炸机, RM16.90) is the densest among available flavors, therefore also most filling. Like the previous version, the Black Bomber also contains cookie crumbs. In this case, Oreo cookies are used instead. As Oreo cookies are quite common in ice cream parlance, I suggest that you try other ice cream variants first especially if you have not done so.
Adding a twist to liquid nitrogen ice cream, there are also 2 alcoholic versions available. To this end, Cool N2 uses Johnnie Walker Double Black Whisky and Baileys' Original Irish Cream.
Make-Up Whisky (浓妆威士忌, RM19.90) uses chocolate ice cream as the base, but with an infusion of aromatic whisky. Additional liquor is provided in a Pasteur pipette (dropper) - some 3 millilitres. I find the bitter sensation of whisky quite compatible with chocolate ice cream.
Cupid (微醺邱比特, RM19.90) also starts with a hearty scoop of dark chocolate ice cream. A dropper of Baileys' Original Irish Cream is provided for alcoholic appeal. I think not many types of ice cream are compatible with Baileys' Original Irish Cream, but Cool N2 does this quite right. The last time I encountered this liqueur in ice cream is at 43 Café.
Each serving of ice cream contains over 200 millilitres of milk, so a single cup is often sufficient for most people. Ice cream is made to order such that nitrogen vapors are still present when served. Since no food conditioner is used during preparation, the ice cream starts to melt after a short while. Nevertheless, melted cream itself is quite likeable too. Its scent and taste are quite similar to fresh milk.
In summary, Cool N2 has something unique to offer in this competitive F&B landscape. Ice cream quality is certainly commendable, and the novelty of using liquid nitrogen is an added appeal. Although the number of flavors are quite limited, the proprietors promise to introduce new choices from time to time.

Name: Cool N2 (分子虎)
Address: 1-1-12, Elit Avenue, Jalan Mayang Pasir 3, 11950 Bayan Baru, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-501-8765
Business hours: 11:00am-11:00pm
Coordinates: 5.32321 N, 100.28308 E
Directions: Cool N2 is located at the eastern side of Elit Avenue in Bayan Baru. Roadside and garage parking are available.

8 comments:

  1. The first liquid nitrogen in Penang is actually the Safe Room which was open 2 years ago! N2 cannot fight leh

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    1. Thanks! But I have not visited The Safe Room, so Cool N2 is indeed my first one in Penang. :-)

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  2. I'm still a little doubtful about ice cream prepared with liquid nitrogen. I would definitely avoid it. Conventional method is still always the best. You can read more about the danger of liquid nitrogen in this article here http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-19870668

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    1. Thanks for your opinion. Liquid nitrogen is dangerous if food is consumed when too cold. Always use caution. :-)

      But as a scientific professional, I would not refrain from molecular gastronomy as long as I understand the principles and possible risks. :-)

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  3. I do agree with you that molecular gastronomy is a new science of preparing food. You may understand the principle very well, but my question is, are the people preparing it have a knowledgeable understanding of the risk and principles

    I went there to try the other day and being fascinated by the vapour coming from the ice cream, I took out my phone to record it. But being a little slow, the 'gas' vaporized before I managed to take a shot. So the person poured another round of liquid nitrogen to it. In another words, you can say it's a double dose. The person who prepared it says it's ok to consume. However, after consuming 1/4 of the ice cream, I realized that it was really hard and I definitely have a hard time scooping it up with a plastic spoon. So I requested for a metal spoon from another person (probably the boss).

    The other person looked at it and realized the ice cream was not prepared at the right texture and offered to prepare another cup for me. So, I'm definitely very doubtful if the 1st person who prepared it for me really knows what he/she is doing.

    Anyway it's a good thing that I'm still ok. Frankly during that time, I'm not even sure if the ice cream had vaporized completely since the fella had poured the li N2 twice. And now that I know, one has to be very very careful and ensure that the liquid nitrogen is completely vaporized before consuming it.

    In conclusion, direct consumption of liquid nitrogen is not safe. Consumption of foods prepared with liquid nitrogen are safe, IF IT IS NOT TOO COLD. And that day I think my ice cream was definitely prepared way too cold.

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    1. When you say "vaporize", do you actually mean "sublimate"? :-)

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  4. I tried, and to be honest this is one of the worst ice cream i ever tried. And the owners ( i assume ) are all too busy playing with their phones, leaving their 2 staff handling which looks like they are lost.
    What pisses me off is the fact that they do not care about the workers safety, letting those kids handle liquid nitrogen without any protective.

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    1. Thanks for your feedback. Hopefully the owners look into this issue. :-)

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