Name of business: House of Random
Type of business: Liquid nitrogen ice cream shop
Location: 80 S. First St., Turlock
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays
Contact information: 209-277-4040
Specialty: Late night hours
History of business:
Downtown Turlock’s newest business is an experience in itself as soon as you walk through the doors, from clouds of vapor floating out of bowls where made-to-order ice cream is created, to seating you can swing on while you eat delicious treats. Artificial turf and pulsing, bright lights adorn some walls, while artwork featuring an enormous canvas of roses sits center stage. If it seems random, you’re right — and that’s the point.
House of Random will celebrate its grand opening this Friday, joining a booming downtown core in the recently-remodeled building that once housed Rainbow Fabrics. While the space in front of the new ice cream shop will soon house First and Main, a forthcoming restaurant from the owners of Bistro 234, House of Random was created by newlywed couple Berooni Babakolan and Brolin Babela when they noticed there weren’t many options for late night dining in downtown Turlock.
“We noticed that Turlock is growing — especially downtown Turlock — and what do people do on a Friday or Saturday night? They go out and drink or they go to hookah, and what’s associated with that is food,” Babela said.
With unique menu items like soft waffle cones filled with popcorn chicken, cups of Mexican-style corn and even an ice cream-stuffed burrito with a cotton candy “tortilla,” House of Random truly lives up to its name while appealing to both late night crowds and families with a sweet tooth.
“If you’re on a good level drinking-wise at 11 o’clock at night, what it is that you crave? That’s what we thought about,” Babakolan said.
The true star of the show, however, is House of Random’s liquid nitrogen ice cream. The phenomenon isn’t available anywhere else locally, according to the couple’s research, with the nearest location that offers the distinctive dessert in Fresno.
The ice cream is exactly what it sounds like, taking the typical frosty treat and instead freezing it with liquid nitrogen right in front of customers’ eyes. The result is a smoother-than-normal ice cream that puts on a performance while being made, emitting huge clouds of vapor as the liquid nitrogen works.
Babakolan and Babela have put in years of practice and training in order to be certified to make liquid nitrogen ice cream, they said, selling the product at farmers markets and via catering in order to perfect their technique.
“Just eating the ice cream is wonderful, but seeing the ice cream being made is a show that you’ve got to see at least one time, just to see what it’s all about,” Babela said.
“The reaction is very amusing; it’s always people walking past, and then they pause and think, ‘What is this cloud of smoke?” Babakolan added. “There’s a lot of excitement. Then once they actually try the product, that’s when you really win them over.”
Using liquid nitrogen to make the ice cream provides a much quicker freezing process, she explained, which eliminates ice crystals that can often give regular ice cream a crunchy texture. The flavors are made from scratch, with Babakolan and Babela adding in fruits, candies or whatever a customer’s heart desires in order to create the perfect taste.
As Stanislaus State graduates, the couple is excited to bring something new and exciting to Turlock, they said. They hope their new downtown shop, with its exciting décor and playground-like seating, can serve as a place where all ages can enjoy some ice cream and have fun while doing so.
“Turlock deserves something fun like this,” Babakolan said.
House of Random will celebrate its grand opening at noon on Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, music, face painting and free giveaways.