Crunchy cereal puffs go in, but smoke comes out.
Chocolate Chair’s signature Dragon Breath dish uses liquid nitrogen to create the illusion that its patrons are exhaling smoke. However, while ideal for an intriguing Instagram picture, the Asian sweets shop in Koreatown lets flavor fall to the side in favor of aesthetic.
The restaurant’s interior features cushioned white chairs and lacks decorations outside of a colorful menu displaying the various treats offered. Like the decor, seating is also minimal, so be wary of going at busy times. Those in search of a quick treat can also peruse the skin care products of the cosmetics shop that Chocolate Chair shares a room with.
An order of Dragon Breath contains a 5-ounce scoop of yellow, red and green cereal balls infused with liquid nitrogen, and for 50 cents more, a flavored dipping sauce. On their own, the cereal balls taste like small bites of Cap’n Crunch due to their mildly sweet flavor. But their otherwise bland flavor makes them little more than vehicles for the liquid nitrogen experience that the restaurant capitalizes on.
Among a variety of other flavors, Chocolate Chair offers both strawberry and salted caramel dipping sauces. Though the strawberry sauce was the more flavorful of the two, it didn’t evoke the taste of fresh strawberries, but instead a flavor more reminiscent of Nesquik strawberry milk. Despite its name, the salted caramel sauce didn’t taste like salt or caramel, lacking any sort of flavor altogether. I effectively paid an extra 50 cents to taste nothing.
The Dragon Breath effect was fairly entertaining for the first few bites, but got old quickly. And the illusion didn’t work with each bite. On several occasions, I popped a cereal puff into my mouth expecting smoke to pour out, only to be sorely disappointed. Other times, the liquid nitrogen worked almost too well and overpowered any flavors from the puff balls and the dipping sauce. Though it had a visually interesting effect, the liquid nitrogen felt slightly uncomfortable and occasionally created a slight burning sensation.
The sweets shop also serves other nitrogen foods and beverages, including nitrogen coffee products, milk tea and ice cream. The sweetness of the rose-flavored nitrogen ice cream was much more flavorful than the bland cereal balls and, unlike some rose-flavored ice creams, the taste of rose was present but not overwhelming. The process of creating liquid nitrogen ice cream also freezes the ingredients more quickly than regular ice cream production does, which allows them to stick together in smaller particles and makes the dessert creamy and smooth.
Overall, the experience was rather lackluster. The excitement of the Dragon Breath’s smoke effect was inconsistent throughout the whole cup of cereal puffs, and the lack of flavor made the treat underwhelming. Those in search of the elusive intersection between aesthetic and flavor will be disappointed at Chocolate Chair, but it’s worth a visit at least once if only for the potential Instagram pictures.