Choose your ice cream methodology, asks the menu board: "N₂" or "fried." The shop's name alludes to the boiling point (-196 ºCelsius) of liquid nitrogen, or N₂, which chills the ingredients in a matter of moments. (A Williamsburg parlor, -321 º Ice Cream, applies the same technique but translates into Fahrenheit.) "Fried," however, is not fried. It's a slangy if misleading term that evokes the efforts of a short-order cook (see the process at another competing vendor) but describes what's often known as rolled ice cream.
Take a firm hand when ordering your toppings; except for the tapioca pearls, my counterman's choices were too sundae-like for this full-flavored pitaya ice cream ($5.50). As for "pitaya," it's a name you might expect to see several avenues away, at one of many Mexican shops. Here in Chinatown, the usual translation is not to Spanish but to English: dragon fruit.
Also shown, from nearby: a westward view at dusk.
-196 ºC Ice Cream
5302 Eighth Ave. (entrance on 53rd St.), Sunset Park, Brooklyn