Best & Worst foods for take-out...

I have found some foods and cuisines are better for take-out than others. For example, BBQ is usually ok, Mexican can quickly decline in transit. I can’t see taking out a French meal, but Indian yes. What has been your experience?

my first instinct while reading the title was also Indian :slight_smile:

I live in an area with lots of Arabic eateries, I must say that grilled meats, rice, and delicious salads & dips travel very well too!

I’ll start with the worst

  1. French fries . Soggy within minutes in the bag
  2. Pizza
  3. Nothing survives takeout except SOUP
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My opinion:

Well, usually speaking, slow cooking foods and stew food should be fine for taking out. Fried foods should be consumed relatively quickly after cooked. Despite many people do take out for Chinese stir fry, most stir fried foods actually deteriorate quickly – especially those with a crispy texture from the frying. I think it is really how the foods being cooked. Some cuisines seem to rely more on certain styles of cooking. For example, many of the Indian food I know are slow moist cooking, so they tend to do fine for by delaying the consumption. The other thing is that people have different expectation or criteria too. I think a typical French meal can survive much better for a take out than a typical Chinese stir fry meal or even a Japanese sushi. However, you see vastly more people do stir fry or sushi takes out, so I think that has a lot to do with expectation.

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But pizza is probably the most popular take-out food item ever, no?

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I can think of many French foods that will travel well - cassoulet, duck confit, pates & terrines, pastries & many desserts (except for creme brulee when you can’t give them the dish, which I’ve had to put in a to-go box and it looks horrible). Which French dishes are you thinking of? Fine dining of any flavor with small portions and elaborate or fragile garnishes will either suffer or just look silly in the to-go box. So much of the value of fine dining is presentation and ambiance.

I’ve found good sushi take-out to be a bit disappointing. Not because the quality suffered but because I so enjoy the entertainment of sitting at the bar and watching the sushi chefs, so without that part of the experience it seemed expensive.

There is a new dumpling restaurant near me that is tiny so will be doing a lot of take-out. They offer various dumplings including xao long bao, or soup dumplings. Considering that when I go to Din Tai Fung the last few dumplings tend to sog and tear by the time I get to them (which isn’t long), take-out XLB seems like a really bad idea.

Which is why take out fries should be eaten immediately, with the hot bag on your lap and greasy fingers on the steering wheel!

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It is the best . But it doesn’t survive the delivery in the box . After a couple minutes it starts to become soggy and get cold . Always have to end up reheating it .

A good point indeed. However, sushi does dry out a bit and raw fish is best to consume as early as possible…etc.

I think many Chinese steamed food doesn’t do well in take out neither. XLB is certainly one of them. Steamed shrimp dumplings are probably even worse.

Whenever I do XLB take out, I ask to take out the “pre-steamed” XLB and then steam them at home. I find that to be much better. Basically, cooking at home. However, one can argue if I am actually doing a take out.

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Anything where you get an item in 4 bundles to be assembled later is probably a bad idea. For example, broth in one container, noodles in another, herbs in another, etc.

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My local pizzeria always delivers to me first (good tipper), so it is generally still piping hot when it gets to my house (it helps that they are really close in proximity as well).

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Noodle soup (pho, nabeyaki udon, etc.) is both. If the noodles & vegetables are packed separately from the broth, it’s the best. If they’re packed together, it’s the worst.

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Pizza- our favorite takeout spot is now almost 30 minutes away. My routine now involves keeping the box open during the ride home so it doesn’t steam inside. My wife gets the oven up to 425° and we put the pizza on a round pan with holes in it (made for pizza). The pizza is thinnish crust so it takes only about 5 minutes to get it pretty much back to perfection. Works much better than any of the several other strategies I’ve tried. This is a public service announcement. ;o)

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If I’m getting takeout pizza I’ll ask them to par-bake it. That way I can get it at my convenience and stash in the refrig until later. Preheat a pizza stone at 375, 15 minutes and it’s perfect.

I always have the oven hot and heat my slice.

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Won’t it be a good thing that you get to assemble later and then “cook” them?

Except . No food ever allowed in my car . Of any kind .

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I don’t do much take-out; I’d rather sit down and eat where it’s cooked. However, there are times when I want delivery–I’ve been working in the yard and am too sweaty and dirty to eat out, I’m just fried and don’t want to cope with the kitchen, etc.

Agree with @kimfair–when I first moved to this area my pizza deliveries weren’t very hot. Although I don’t order very often, I do tip well and my pizza now arrives very hot. When I order cheesesteak and fries from my go-to for that meal, the steak is always fine, but the fries are always cold–I heat the oven to 450 when I order and pop the fries in for a few minutes. They’re still not as good as the eat-in version, but I need a $10 min for delivery and the steak doesn’t meet the threshold. My go-to salad delivery place is easiest as their default is dressing on the side.

ETA: I do take-out hoagies if I know I’ll be running all day. But I order them dry and add my own olive oil at home so the roll doesn’t get soggy.

So glad to read someone else does this. For something like fried fish, we open the container and lay all the fish pieces individually to minimize soggy spots.

Yes, it’s ideal from that perspective. But it’s hard to get right. Usually I have to ask for it and explain why I’m asking. Something often leaks or spills in the bag. If the establishment isn’t used to packing this way, proportions are off, too. Plus, it wastes lots of containers.

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To avoid soggy pizza, I’ve been asking places not to slice the pie and I cut it at home. Works like a charm during the 75% of the time when they remember to follow my instruction.

French fries are a losing battle, as are any type of chicken that’s supposed to have a crisp crust. Some places with saucy versions of Korean fried chicken manage to avoid the sog.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold