Why you should care
Because it’s liquid nitrogen meets Froot Loops.
“Do I breathe in? Should I purse my lips? What if I sneeze?”
These are weird questions to ask about dessert, but considering that I was holding a smoking cup of rainbow-colored cereal-like balls, and my fellow foodies were crunching on them and crafting smoke rings, I felt some advice was necessary.
As a West Coast transplant, it’s been some time since I’ve been a freezing, parka-wearing cloud-breather. But now I’m re-creating that experience, sans shivering, with Dragon’s Breath, a liquid nitrogen–infused dessert that turns your mouth into a steam machine. Imported from South Korea, this novelty treat is icy to the touch, each multicolored sphere about the size of a marble.
Don’t think of it as food, think food-tainment. Vapor billowed from my cup, small pillowy clouds coalescing above my hands. I used a stick to place one in my mouth, and the first bite released another thick waft of smoke. The more experienced Dragon’s Breath folk in the crowd were exhaling through the nose, creating the dragonlike resemblance for which the snack is named, albeit a Puff-style dragon with a penchant for children’s cereal.
When the liquid nitrogen hits the cereal balls, they start changing hue, shifting from a pastel shade to fluorescent primary colors.
As a lifelong sugar lover, I’m hard to please, having experimented with Australian fairy floss, salivated over deep-fried candy bars and puzzled my way through avocado-and-cactus ice cream (weirdly delicious). But Dragon’s Breath is something else — something so unusual that the line for the Chocolate Chair, the dessert bar in San Francisco’s Japan Center that sells them, was three-people-deep.
Twenty-four-year-old Cesar Rojas, who works behind the counter, has a routine with a rhythm to it: Scoop the cereal balls into a mixing bowl, twist open the liquid nitrogen valve, shake the balls and then serve with a flourish. “It’s popular with adults and kids,” Rojas says as he passes a steaming cup to an excited customer.
The liquid nitrogen makes the magic happen, and the Chocolate Chair has huge tanks of the stuff. The cereal balls are flash frozen in less than 90 seconds, a process that also causes tiny ice crystals to form on the outside of the bowl. When the liquid nitrogen hits the cereal balls, they start changing hue, shifting from a pastel shade to fluorescent primary colors. Rojas says that color change is a signifier they’re ready to go. “It’s weird, but you get used to it,” he says. “It tastes like Froot Loops.”
The texture is light and crunchy, and while it’s not the most delicious dessert, the entertainment factor makes it worthy of multiple visits. Currently available at four locations in California, Dragon’s Breath is cheap enough — $4.99 for a small order, $6.99 for a large — for the adventurous to get their dragon on, and so very Instagrammable.
Eat your heart out, Daenerys.