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By Elena Kadvany

Palo Alto gets another nitrogen ice cream shop

Uploaded: Apr 6, 2016

Creamistry, a franchised chain of nitrogen ice cream shops, is opening a location in downtown Palo Alto.

Much like the popular Smitten (which was born in San Francisco and has a location in Los Altos) and Scoop Microcreamery in Palo Alto, Creamistry uses liquid nitrogen to make its ice cream. With a temperature of minus-321 degrees Fahrenheit, liquid nitrogen can be used to freeze a base mixture on the spot. Scoop, for example, makes its ice cream in small batches, whereas Creamistry and Smitten makes each order on the spot.

Uday Somasunderam, co-owner of Scoop Microcreamery in Palo Alto, makes pumpkin ice cream at the store by adding liquid nitrogen to a cream mixture. Photo by Veronica Weber/Palo Alto Weekly.

This method of making ice cream has been gaining popularity in the Bay Area; its proponents say it creates a product that is more dense, creamier and more flavorful than traditionally churned ice cream.

Creamistry Palo Alto owner Li Li said he plans to open the shop this summer at 164 University Ave., the former home of Selix Formal Wear (and one block away from Scoop).

Li, a San Francisco resident, discovered Creamistry through a friend who lives in Irvine. As someone who makes ice cream at home, he liked the liquid nitrogen concept, which was new to him when he first tried Creamistry, he said. He and his wife decided to invest in a franchise.

Creamistry's menu is more vast and customizable than its local peers. Customers can choose from several bases to make their ice cream —premium, organic, sorbet, coconut or Greek yogurt— and then go wild with a host of flavors, toppings and "upgrades." Flavors range from classic like chocolate, French vanilla and caramel to nutella, roasted black sesame, birthday cake, tiramisu, matcha green tea and French Toast Crunch (yes, the cereal).

There are also special ice cream-based based drinks like an affogato (traditionally a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a shot of espresso) and floats. Check out the full menu here.

Creamistry’s quality and a wealth of flavor options makes it a good competitor in the MidPeninsula’s crowded ice-cream market, Li said. Having tried Smitten, Li prefers Creamistry.

"I do think that this will compete pretty well in the ice cream arena, especially compared to Smitten," he said.

Creamistry operates 12 locations in Southern California, with more on the way in Arizona and Texas. The Palo Alto outpost will be the first in Northern California. Li said he plans to eventually open two other Bay Area shops, in San Mateo and Dublin.