A cold chill is blanketing a corner of Sehar commercial and what it's fueled by, you'll never guess.
Newly opened ice cream parlour Scream may resemble a chemistry lab with the big nitrogen tanks next to the counter but that's because the parlour uses the liquid gas to flash freeze their product. Children stare in awe, crowding around the counter as the LN2 is poured into a stainless-steel bowl, creating a mist of cool air.
Oh, who am I kidding? Adults were just as gobsmacked.
Owned and operated by budding restaurateurs, Saad Nasir and Saiem Nasir (the duo behind Hoagies), Scream opened its doors to the public less than a week ago and has already generated ample buzz.
What inspired the two brothers to bring this fascinating way of making a timeless frozen treat to Pakistan?
"Honestly? Saad and I just thought that bringing liquid nitrogen ice cream here would just be fun to do. We didn't think much into it — we never do. We thought It would add a little bit of theatre to the experience and it'd be cool to witness your scoop of ice cream being made right in front of you live and fresh," shares Saiem.
"It took us a little over 3 years to figure everything out, from recruiting all the equipment to getting all the training required. The set-up for all this was ridiculously expensive; just the decor alone took us 6 months to finalize!"
But these guys weren't going to let their dreams melt away.
"We were stubborn. We persevered because all our business revelations have come through personal struggle, the struggle of not finding another alternative. So we brought Aamir Ahmed on board as a partner who's this great engineer extraordinaire, to help us figure it out and 3 brains did what 2 would have eventually done a lot faster and that's how we came up with Scream."
A scoop of science?
This method of making ice cream has become increasingly popular in the last few years; the accelerated process results in less ice crystals being formed than when traditional methods are use. That means that the end product is ultra-creamy ice cream.
What makes the nitrogen basically essential to Scream is the ability it gives the joint to make ice cream fresh to order: you walk up to the counter and ask for a medium blueberry cheesecake flavour with tapioca or latte with M&Ms and it's the liquid nitrogen which freezes all the ingredients together in less than a minute.
"It takes about 45 seconds from adding the fresh flavours, to mixing, to blasting and then scooping into the cup. The ice cream it self takes 15 seconds to mix. Everything is fresh and made in front of you!"
Even though it's quick, it still sounds labour-intensive, right? Why bother when you could probably scoop out 3 cups of ice cream in the time you'll take making one this way?
Saiem feels the proof is reflected in the taste: "The beauty about liquid nitrogen ice cream is its unbelievably smooth texture."
"We add our fresh ice cream batter, add flavour and then blast with LN2 which freezes around -196 degrees celsius."
He elaborates, "This rapid freezing ensures that the ice cream doesn't have water crystals and very minimal air whipped into the mix (ice cream everywhere here, has a lot of air whipped in) so our product won't ever give you that dreadful icy crunch! It's velvety and delicious, as ice cream should be."
Oh and if that isn't interesting enough, they've also brought back the Boba. Remember that kiosk outside the grocery store, Agha's that served this specialty Taiwanese tea-based bubble drink? Yep, that's the one!
What to eat?
Scream officially launched on February 14. It was poetic in a way; I mean, it was almost like giving all the single people in the city this sanctuary, where they could come to drown their sorrows in ice cream.
I discovered its existence on Karachi Food Diary and the foodie in me couldn't resist but go check it out the very day it opened.
While their claim to fame is their ice cream, their menu also offers a wide range of comfort food like chicken with waffles (!!!), wings, fries, among other things. One can go unwind over a cup of coffee, pig out on ice cream or munch on one of the savoury items.
I ordered a medium Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream first and curly fries for later. Why I chose to have dessert first just goes to show how excited I was and I'm not even particularly a big fan of ice cream.
As soon as I took my first bite, I understood was Saiem had been talking about. It was like froyo and gelato had given birth to this baby and named it liquid nitrogen ice cream. It had the richness of gelato but it was extremely creamy and smooth, like froyo but better.
My friend, who had gotten Choco Nutella with Oreos quipped, "This is the best ice cream I've ever had."
The fries were really good, fried to crisp perfection, I think they were the same ones you get at their sub shop, Hoagies.
I ended the visit with a strawberry bubble tea with popping boba to go; super refreshing and unlike anything else you get in the city.
All in all, damage on the pocket? 2 medium ice creams (one with an extra topping), one curly fries and one bubble tea cost me Rs. 880. Everything on the menu is reasonably priced, the most expensive thing being Rs. 450 (the mozzarella sticks).
Safe to say, I'm heading back there again tonight because I didn't get a chance to try their wings the first time around, which Saiem deems a must try.
Scream is located at Shop # 3, 18-D, Seher Commercial, Lane 4, Phase VII, D.H.A. (Right next to Big Thick Burgerz)