If a mad scientist opened an ice cream parlor, it’d probably resemble the Ice Cream Lab, Old Pasadena’s latest confectionery shop. This modern hipster dessert spot (think Coolhaus, Salt & Straw) offers made-to-order ice cream with a twist–fresh ingredients plus liquid nitrogen equals instant ice cream. How’s that for “a delicious experiment”?
The store’s decor highlights its cooky, scientist-meets-ice-cream theme, with a large-scale graffiti drawing of a scientist in a lab coat pointing to a sign of The Ice Cream Lab. Cool hints of Pasadena are scattered throughout the Fair Oaks location, including sketches of the Rose Bowl and Pasadena red roses. And bright blues and crisp whites throughout the store give the impression you’ve entered a chic and modern walk-in-freezer.
Owners and co-founders Joseph Lifshutz and Tommy Ngan opened the first Ice Cream Lab in Beverly Hills in 2013. Their desire? To incorporate molecular gastronomy cooking into their ice cream. And boy, do they. The Ice Cream Lab’s four “nitrocream” machines utilize liquid nitrogen, which instantly freezes various ingredients into ice cream. Take their Banilla flavor for example. Nilla wafers and bananas, combined with a vanilla base, are placed in a “nitrocreamer”; once the ingredients begin to mix, a nitrous gas dissipates from the machine, turning the counter into a science lab, and roughly five minutes later, a creamy, flavorful, and all natural ice cream is produced.
And let me tell you, their product doesn’t disappoint. The flavors are unique and delicious. Banilla’s combination of bananas and Nilla wafers tastes like a frozen, creamy banana cream pie. Their Salt Lick Crunch (vanilla with caramel sauce and crumbled pretzels), balances savory and sweet to perfection; and each bite of their Blue Velvet tastes like a red velvet cake (thanks to the addition of cream cheese frosting). Their classic flavors (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry) are simple yet creamy, decadent yet fresh. And soon, the shop will offer vegan vanilla and chocolate (made with coconut milk) and sorbets. No one, in other words, will be left out. Plus, for the show and fresh ingredients, the prices are reasonable–$5 for a medium, $7 for a large, and $12 for a pint.
The Ice Cream Lab opened October 29th on Fair Oaks Ave., south of Colorado Blvd. in Old Town Pasadena. Opened seven days a week, the Ice Cream Lab operates from noon until 11pm Sunday through Wednesday and until midnight Thursday through Saturday. Try a maddeningly delicious scoop today.