The yummiest ice cream in Manila is the Osmanthus Nitrogen Ice Cream in Zenses…
In the picture above, Chef OJ pours the liquid nitrogen into the stainless steel pitcher, where it will be used for a live demo of creating the Nitro-Ice Cream from scratch.
Zenses is promoting itself as the first and only Molecular Gastronomy experience in Manila. I’m not sure about it being first, but I heard that Tivoli of Mandarin was the first one to introduce Nitrogen Ice Cream in the metro. But I would credit Zenses for being the most innovative in terms of flavor and presentation.
The Live Demo
After the liquid nitrogen is prepared, the chef brings out a pre-concocted milk base for the ice cream. It comes in three flavors based on a flower — osmanthus, rose and _______ . We tried the bestseller, osmanthus.
Technically, the ice cream was not prepared from scratch (contrary to what the menu is claiming). It would have been nice if the actual mix was prepared in front of you from the raw ingredients like in Tivoli.
Liquid nitrogen is poured on the milk base with osmanthus flavor, creating a smoky “dry ice” effect. I asked the chef about the hazards of liquid nitrogen, and he said that the worst he had experienced was cryoburn from its droplets.
So, keep a safe distance from the liquid nitrogen.
It only took a few minutes to transform the milk base into ice cream by mixing it with a wire whisk.
This cold treat starts to form at a soft stage first, but with a few more minutes of mixing, it hardens into the traditional texture of ice cream.
The serving glasses are prepared by cooling them with liquid nitrogen (-196 degrees), then swirling the liquid like wine until it evaporates.
The ice cream is scooped up, served, and finished with liquid nitrogen on top.
Nitro-Ice Cream (Tableside; P480+SC) – minimum of two orders. Ice cream made from scratch, done right at your table.
It was super creamy, just like eating pastillas with a hint of flower tea flavor. They serve it naked because they want the ice cream to speak for itself. In Tivoli, you have the options of toppings and other flavors.
Osmanthus is a flower from Shanghai. Surprisingly, the flavor works. It’s like eating milk tea in ice cream form.
We also tried the Zenses sweater, where they pour liquid nitrogen into a tequila/lime-based shooter to create a smoky effect. Using flame for shooters is a thing of the past.
The Zenses Sweater(P240+SC)
Aside from the Nitro-Ice Cream, Zenses offers a wide assortment of weird food pairings like their allegedly famous Strawberry Ribs, where coriander and strawberry are mixed in with the ribs. (I’m curious, but I’m not hearing a lot of buzz about it.)