Three ice cream makers get creative keeping Vancouver cool

For a city with such a short and fickle relationship with summer, Vancouver has plenty of options to keep cool — and here are three new-ish options to check out.

Cream of the crop

Tangram Creamery ice cream is made from scratch without any stabilizers or pre-made bases. The menu
Tangram Creamery. Photo Dan Toulgoet


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Arbutus and West 11th Avenue may not be the hippest part of town, but it definitely got cooler this year with the opening of Tangram Creamery.

Owners Michael Wong and Tinn Chan emphasize their ice cream is made from scratch without any stabilizers or pre-made bases. “We like the clarity when it melts on your palate, instead of having your tongue coated with heavy cream,” says Wong.

The menu changes each Friday. Chocolate and vanilla are always available, as are two dairy-free sorbets. For the rest, you’ll have to read the floor-to-ceiling paper scrolls. You might have the option of salted caramel or black sesame, London fog or hojicha (roasted Japanese green tea).

The really indecisive can get two flavours in a single cone — and not your ordinary waffle cone, either. Tangram’s are made in-house, based on a French cookie called langues de chat and sealed with a kiss of chocolate.

Tangram Creamery, 2729 Arbutus St., 604-620-8609.

Vice as nice

Chris White started making vice cream — a dairy-free, plant-based ice cream alternative — as a hobby
Nice Vice owner Chris White. Photo Dan Toulgoet


“We ain’t ice cream,” says Chris White, owner of Nice Vice in Yaletown.

A recovering addict, White started making vice cream — a dairy-free, plant-based ice cream alternative — as a hobby. “I got clean about eight years ago, and a big part of recovery is eating ice cream. It’s a way to socialize…without going to a bar.” In the process, he discovered his lactose intolerance.

Instead of dairy, White plays with sweet potato milk, organic coconut milk and brown rice milk. As he says, it’s not ice cream — the texture is thinner and slightly grainier, the flavours cleaner. Avocado-based flavours have a touch more richness, while the fruit flavours are vibrant and refreshing.

After you choose your scoop, you can top it with a variety of infused salts and even hot sauce. (White recommends the latter with the passion fruit nice vices.)

“Some people look at us like we’re strange and deranged, but I think, what’s really wrong with it? You have a choice. We want to make it enjoyable. Fun.”

Nice Vice, 1022 Mainland St., 778-379-6423.

Adele approved

Mister co-owners Tommy Choi and Michael Lai use liquid nitrogen — chilled to a blistering -196 C to
Mister ice cream shop. Photo Dan Toulgoet


What do you get when you combine ice cream, performance art and science? Mister. Co-owners Tommy Choi and Michael Lai use liquid nitrogen — chilled at a blistering  -196 C — to make ice cream that’s denser and creamier than is possible with traditional methods.

Choi explains that the regular ice-cream making process takes about 45 minutes to freeze ice cream, but liquid nitrogen can do it in three minutes. “There’s no time for ice crystals and ice to get into the base.”

(For anyone worried about possible ill effects of using liquid nitrogen, don’t be — the air we breathe is comprised of 78 per cent nitrogen.)

In a city notorious for finicky permitting, Mister didn’t have any issues with the city or health department around the use of liquid nitrogen.

But their nitrogen supplier was harder to nail down. “Usually liquid nitrogen is used in hospitals and factories, so when I said ice cream they seemed surprised. We had to do a bit of explaining.”

Open since June, Mister got a surprise endorsement from Adele, who visited their shop when she toured through town. Her flavour of choice, double Oreo, has quickly become a bestseller, with customers simply asking for the “Adele Special.” Word to the wise: the crème brulee is also worth a try.

Mister, 1141 Mainland St., 778-379-2833.


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