By Tiffany Ran
Northwest Asian Weekly
Bellevue’s Fog Rose Ice Cream Boutique is the closest one can come to eating fresh churned ice cream. That is because each flavor is spun with liquid nitrogen, becoming ice cream only upon customer request. Customers choose a flavor of their choice and pick from a range of toppings to design their own crafted sundae.
The idea is one that owner Quyen Dang brought over from California, where the concept had gained popularity in the last three to four years. Dang left her job as a civil engineer to open Fog Rose Ice Cream, a small ice cream boutique in a shared marketplace at Bellevue’s Soma Tower North. While ice cream has gained popularity in the Seattle area, Fog Rose is the first known shop to utilize liquid nitrogen in making their craft ice cream and sorbets.
“I was just fascinated by the process,” said Dang about liquid nitrogen ice cream. “I think it’s cool that you can make something to order and the texture and taste is better than your average ice cream. I kept on coming back to it. Eventually, I realized there wasn’t really anything like that in Washington.”
The process of using liquid nitrogen flash freezes the liquid base to order as it is incorporated in a mixer. This eliminates the possibility of ice crystals and provides a smooth, thoroughly creamy ice cream that emerges from a veil of wispy, spun fog. The process also allows for fruit flavored ice creams to include chunks of fresh cut fruit.
The journey to open Fog Rose took about a year, which included staff training and buildout, but also extensive research on sourcing and technique.
For Dang, the leap from engineering to food industry was risky, but is one she hopes will lead to new experiences — not just for herself, but for customers.
The ice cream boutique features unique flavors Dang developed alongside pastry chefs and from bringing ideas she encountered in her research. The quirky quinoa butter ice cream with a nutty, buttery aroma began as an eyebrow raiser, but has since become a Fog Rose signature. The boutique also features weekly seasonal flavors like pistachio rose or rhubarb.
“People don’t expect quinoa to be on our menu. Some of the flavors I tasted in California was so good, I felt it had to be on the menu. Olive Oil was a flavor I had in California. It’s something you don’t think would be good in ice cream, but it’s very popular. Part of the menu development is getting people to try things that they wouldn’t typically want to try, and get them to enjoy something beyond their typical chocolate mint,” said Dang.
Dang looks to extend this experimental platform to the Fog Rose Atelier, a full-service dessert oriented restaurant set to open in the fall. The Atelier will allow for Fog Rose to operate out of their own kitchen in the same Soma Towers North building, which will function as a test kitchen to pilot new and creative flavors that may be featured on the menu for only a few days. Dang also hopes to invite guest pastry chefs to feature their desserts alongside Fog Rose offerings.
“The idea is every time you step in, you’re going to be looking at a different menu and be able to try something different,” said Dang.
She hopes the Atelier will foster a creative exchange between the customers and the shops. Since developing a blueberry lavender flavor at the boutique at a customer’s request, Dang has welcomed continued input from customers about flavors they would like to see on the menu.
Along with a wider range of ice cream and dessert offerings, the new Fog Rose Atelier will also feature a bar with craft cocktails, boozy ice cream shakes, and champagne floats. The Ice Cream Boutique downstairs will continue to feature its diverse ice cream offerings with select weekly specials.
For more information about Fog Rose Ice Cream Boutique and Atelier, visit fogrose.com.
Tiffany can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.