Ice-cream isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you see people standing around in lab-coats, though this is exactly the case at Just Like It!, located opposite the Golden Screen Cinemas in the new wing of One Utama Shopping Centre. This unorthodox ice-cream parlour is decked out like a quirky little science lab, complete with formulas scribbled across the black walls and an assortment of conical flasks containing the ice-cream ingredients.
Liquid nitrogen. Odorless, colourless and nonflammable, the element is usually used to freeze food products for transport, the cryopreservation of biological samples and even as a coolant for superconductors. Here at Just Like It!, it's used to freeze the ice-cream instantly without the use of a conventional ice-cream freezer. Though not quite as revolutionary as the shop tagline cries out, it's only recently that this concept is being commercialised.
I've walked past this place a few times, and finally decided to give it a try a couple of months after it first opened. There are quite a few flavours available, though they change them on a weekly basis with some flavours on the permanent menu. Apparently, their newest flavour is Durian Durian, something they recommended to us when we were still deciding on what to order.
As each cup of ice-cream is made from scratch as you order, the fun thing about visiting this place is getting to watch as the staff pour and mix the ingredients. There are a lot of beakers and conical flasks in use here, in tune with the whole science lab atmosphere. The mixing is the best part, as the liquid nitrogen fogs up around the mixer - kind of like a modern witches' cauldron. Within a couple of minutes, you've got a perfect scoop of velvety ice-cream in a cup.
My sister originally wanted the Chill Chocolate Mint, but it wasn't on this week's menu - instead, she went with the Flakin Chocolate, which is part of their permanent menu. It had a very smooth texture, a quality usually attributed to liquid nitrogen resulted ice-cream. It was alright though a little bland - really made me curious about how the Chill Chocolate Mint would be like.
For myself, I wanted to try the Icy Lychee which was also not available on this week's list. I couldn't quite decide on what to order, so I settled with the Tropicana Mango. The mango flavour was very authentic, it felt like I was eating a melted down version of the fruit. There was also quite a lot of it considering we ordered small cups for each of us. I can understand why the small cups come at RM9.90, considering the effort put into making each cup and the size of the scoop.
The third flavour we got was New Popcorn, which was my boyfriend's choice. Part of their signature menu, I think this was the best of all three scoops we tried. The ice-cream had a very buttery taste with a hint of vanilla, the silky texture interrupted by crunchy popcorn chunks. We had watched as a small measure of popcorn was poured into the mixer to make this flavour, and it really added to the taste. Definitely the best I've tasted here so far!
It was pretty quiet when we first arrived, but people started popping up after we placed our orders. Something about the liquid nitrogen fog puffing out around the outlet really attracts a crowd. While the three of us sat on the only stools available, we watched as other people got their ice-cream made, many of them reaching their hands out to touch the wisps of mist.
While their store name isn't very catchy, the concept is a novelty, and their range of flavours is quite tempting. I'm already thinking about coming again to try something new. Although the price is a little steep for a scoop of ice-cream (RM9.90 for a small cup and RM11.90 for a big cup), the helping is not too bad. It would be even better if we could choose our own toppings and ingredients to go with the flavours.