Five restaurant leftovers you should not eat the next day
So you were at a restaurant and you ordered way too much food -- or just the right amount if you wanted a "fat human" box or two to take home. But in the cold gray light of dawn, last night's chicken à la awesome could turn into today's irritable fowl syndrome. There are certain dishes that work well as day-after dining, and others that will not survive the overnight Styrofoam containment. General rule: eggrolls, yes, cream cheese wontons, no; enchiladas, yes, tacos, no. As for pizza -- it doesn't matter because most folks will eat leftover pizza off the carpet, down crusts re-hydrated with beer, and not care about the gastrointestinal consequences.
Here are five restaurant leftovers that you definitely should not eat the next day. Ranch dressing can only mask so much.
5. Chinese food.
Chinese food stands up to the test of time about as well as Kevin Sorbo's career. No matter what dim sum shop or Imperial-Hunan-Golden-Palace-of-Eel location the dishes came from, leftover fried rice gets crunchy, lo mein noodles become ratty, and Kung Pao chicken chunks end up with the consistency of fun-sized Snickers bars with extra peanuts. It's a myth that soy sauce kills anything -- except your blood pressure, anyway. So it's a damn good thing that after a Chinese meal you're hungry an hour later, because any longer in the fridge and those leftovers will give "kill the dragon" a whole new meaning.
Bar food usually doesn't make for pristine leftovers, and cheeseburgers degrade faster than the time it takes to make them in the first place. The beef turns fifty shades of gray, the buns deflate and absorb mayo like slimy sponges, the lettuce wilts, the tomatoes drip, and the fries go limp faster than George Takei at a Miss America pageant.
3. Chicken Parmesan.
Pasta is fantastic the next day. Chicken Parmesan is not, unless you adore the flavor of fryer grease the second time around -- this time without the benefit of heat. The breading gets gummy, the cheese gets implacably dry, the meat becomes stringy, and there is kind of bread that will turn this stuff into an edible sandwich.
2. Anything from Red Lobster. If you've ever smelled the rank odor of microwaved butterfly shrimp, then you have some insight into why it's best to eat your "ahoy-matey" platter at Red Lobster and let the Hazmat suit-wearing bussers discard the scraps at the end of the night. Those white cheddar biscuits turn into cakes of plaster, the clam chowder reeks like a club's ladies room at the end of the night and second-lifed crab legs taste like canned cat food. There is nothing on the menu at Red Lobster that should ever be re-heated the day after, unless you want seagulls flying in circles around your house, screaming and pelting your car with butt-paste globules.
You had eight wooden cups of warm sake, your date from Plenty of Fish had nine, so this night at the sushi restaurant is looking pretty shiny when the boat came in. It was the house sushi boat, covered from stem to stern with a hundred different kinds of sushi -- spicy tuna rolls, unagi, hamachi, octopus, those nasty-ass cold egg things they throw in for filler. Then the night turned: Your date said he/she had to get home before his/her spouse got off work, so you packed up the remaining 42 bites of sushi and headed out. The next day the balmy morning sunshine hits the to-go box, and you gently extract a seaweed-wrapped bite and place it in your hunger hole-hole. Then another...then five more...
This story ends 45 five minutes later with "huuuuurp.......splash," and you blaming the sake for everything.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.