The newest trend in our dessert hub of a city is liquid nitrogen ice cream.
Mister (1141 Mainland Street) recently opened its doors in Yaletown to serve this enigmatic yet tasty frozen treat. It takes the space previously occupied by Sweet Bake Shop.
In case you’re not familiar with this type of frozen dessert, liquid nitrogen rapidly freezes ingredients at very low temperatures to make ice cream. It creates smaller ice crystals, making it much creamier, smoother, and denser than traditional ice cream.
The latest frozen treat addition to the city’s thriving dessert culture, Mister is the brainchild of long-time friends Michael Lai and Tommy Choi. After meeting Lai during his university years in Toronto, Choi tried his hand at a dessert shop business in Asia, but that was the extent of the duo’s experience in the food industry.
“We always wanted to create something cool and unique. We thought ice cream was achievable for us,” Choi told the Straight.
Of course, nothing is as simple as it sounds. “We went to a lot of places in the world to try different types of ice cream,” said Lai. “We went to Los Angeles, and had ice cream every day. We were basically on an ice-cream diet.”
“We went to about six or seven ice-cream stores a day, and had two or three flavours at every store,” explained Lai. “We looked at how the textures were different, how the ingredients were different, and that’s how we shaped our product.”
The outcome of their research has resulted in a high-quality, delicious ice cream with unique flavours.
Made with local ingredients whenever possible, and using dairy from Meadow Fresh Dairy in Port Coquitlam, guests can currently pick from a roster of flavours that include avocado, dark chocolate, crème brûlée, lemon frozen yogurt, and double Oreo.
The avocado is smooth and light—and filled with fresh avocado bits—while the lemon frozen yogurt is fresh and creamy, and uses cream cheese as an ingredient.
Unlike other frozen dessert spots, Mister doesn’t offer toppings to add to its ice cream. The owners explained that they want to focus on the flavours and ingredients, instead of additional items that may take away from the original taste.
“For our crème brûlée flavour, we use real egg yolks and real vanilla beans,” said Lai. “If you put it into a cup and put it in the oven, it will actually turn into real crème brûlée.”
Choi explains that the emphasis on fresh and natural ingredients in Mister’s ice cream is meant to evoke the same intense and satiating flavours found in desserts in their original form.
The process of watching your liquid nitrogen ice cream being made is also a unique experience worth noting. A row of multi-coloured KitchenAid stand mixers will churn the ingredients, while the addition of liquid nitrogen turns it into ice cream and creates a photo-worthy mist.
In terms of what looks good in front of the camera, the ice cream parlour is quite photogenic itself. Designed by Vancouver firm Scott and Scott Architect, the shop features whitewashed brickwork, galvanized steel, a soapstone counter, moulded leather stools, and Douglas fir cabinets.
“We like to create something that’s more of a lifestyle, rather than just a commercial [business],” said Choi.
“We want to get into the neighbourhood, and we want to get to know the people around us,” added Lai. “We want to have a spot where the neighbourhood can come in on a sunny day, and sit on the patio.”
The duo has already come up with around 20 flavours, which they will slowly release to the public as their menu rotates. They hope to come out with fun and adventurous flavours, which will simultaneously surprise guests—in a good way.
“When people see something they can’t imagine, but the product itself is good, I think that will give us a huge feeling of accomplishment,” said Lai.
Scroll through the photos below for a look at Mister's liquid nitrogen ice cream.