Why Take Out Food Mostly Tastes … Meh

Picture credit: sitemakers.co.uk


Looks like take out and delivery will be sticking around a bit longer, sigh…

Working in F&B I have been asked why take out food tastes so different from the food you eat at the same restaurant.

Take Out

Ever wondered why take out food mostly tastes uninspiring? Do you want to know the secret to better tasting take out food? Keep on reading!

First things first. There is of course the experienced based aspect of dining out. Eating in a beautifully designed space, enjoying great service, food plating, being with other people, that sort of thing will make your food taste better, even though it has nothing to do with the food itself.

Now let's focus on the food itself.

The short answer to take out foods' lackluster performance is TEXTURE. The texture of the food suffers because of the time which passes between the food being cooked at the restaurant and you actually eating it at home.

What does that actually mean?

Looking at only the food, I already mentioned that the big issue is the time which passes between food preparation and the food being consumed. What happens to your food in this time?

In your restaurant it will be a matter of minutes from the food being cooked to delivering it to your table. Taking your food home however will lengthen this time period to at least 30-90 min.

During this time the following happens to your already cooked and now packaged food:

  • It gets cold
  • It steams and the steam condensates, making it soggy and wet (think fried stuff)
  • It keeps on stewing in its own juices, making it go mushy (think noodles)
  • It dries out, becomes stringy, chewy and tough (short cooked meats like steaks or nacho chips)
  • Flavors and textures start to meld together, they become indistinguishable

Texture 101

Most of these affect one thing: texture. What is texture? Texture is the feeling of the food in your mouth, not the taste but the feeling. Crunchy, soft, hard, chewy, juicy, viscous (thick, thin), you name it. A well prepared dish balances textures, it is usually not just one texture but several.

Take a fried chicken for example, it should be crunchy and dry outside (the fried batter) and soft and juicy inside. Or a pizza, which should have a crispy crust and a moist and soft interior. What is the reality when we get that food delivered? The chicken's batter is soft and wet outside (or dry and hard) and the pizza becomes tough and dry  like the cardboard box in comes in (it might also become soggy). Eating it cold or lukewarm doesn't help either.

What to do then?

You could cook yourself, get a restaurant kit or at least heat up chilled or frozen food yourself (precooked food specifically made for reheating, not yesterday's sad delivery).

At LX Burritos we have frozen, ready to eat meals, like our burritos, pizza and western bistro meals. Learn more here.

If you want or have to order take out food, order something which is only wet (soup based) or only dry (no liquid, sauces are liquids too). Food which tastes ok or is meant to be eaten cold (a salad, cold noodles). Food which doesn't mind getting reheated or tastes even better the next day, like stews or baked pasta. Don’t order food which deteriorates rapidly after it has been cooked, like steaks, pasta, fried stuff, pizzas… Oh and reheat it if you can.

So there you have it, my 2 cents on what makes most take out food a tragedy.