Takeout has never looked — or tasted — this good. When coronavirus shuttered Long Island dining rooms in the spring of 2020, restaurants had to revamp their entire approach to food to-go. No soggy burger buns or limp pasta here — instead, menus changed, cocktails suddenly became mobile and inventive packaging became paramount to delivering the best at-home dining experiences. Newsday's FeedMe hereby acknowledges the Long Island eateries that made extra effort with The Takeout Awards:
New Fu Run, Great Neck
Not a thing goes to waste when you order the Peking duck special ($68) at New Fu Run. It takes chef Shao three days of preparation — seasoning the duck, pumping air between the skin and the meat, boiling it to render the fat and hanging it to dry before roasting — and he is determined to elevate every morsel. The breast meat, sliced neatly and covered with burnished skin, is accompanied (separately) by paper-thin pancakes, scallions, cucumber and sauce so you can make your own wraps at home. The dark meat is hacked into smaller bone-in pieces and stir-fried with cumin and chili for a second meal. The remaining carcass is turned into two quarts of duck-cabbage soup. Order at least two days in advance.
50 Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck, 516-708-1888, furunrestaurant.com
BEST ATTENTION TO COCKTAIL DETAILS
Margarita pouches and to-go cup daiquiris are one thing, but wouldn’t you like to bring home something a little more, you know, classy from time to time? The menu at Hermanas Kitchen and Cocktails in Lindenhurst features several libations in which complexity and creativity are matched only by their oh-so-savvy takeout packaging. Consider, for instance, its Negroni Lila ($14), a purple-hued concoction borne of gin, vermouth and Luxardo Bitter, or perhaps its Lavender Bee’s Knees ($13), a Prohibition-era pleasure perfect for our prohibitory times.
In the wrong hands, it might be little more than a watery disappointment by the time it reaches your door. Not so at this Lindenhurst Mexiteria. The restaurant loads one compartment of a cardboard cup holder with a split of cava, a second with a vessel of honey, lemon, gin and lavender bitters, and a third with the cocktail glass itself, inside of which is a single mammoth ice cube showered with dried lavender blossoms. Combine the three and presto chango — you’ll feel like a home bootlegger, but minus the bathtub gin.
136 S Wellwood Ave, Lindenhurst, hermanaslindy.com
BEST (NOT) DRESSED RAMEN
Rakkii Ramen, Smithtown
Ramen purveyors figured out long ago that keeping the broth separate from everything else is paramount when it comes to successful takeout. Reheat the broth at home, then you can add everything else. At the year-old Rakkii Ramen in Smithtown, takeout ramen is delivered in the most adorable modular way. The various components (noodles, chashu, narutomaki, scallions, egg and a sheet of nori) come in a top container nearly fitted above the broth, which is packaged in its own tub. Lift that top container away, and it takes but a few flicks of the wrist to slide this colorful composition into the fragrant, liquid depths of tonkotsu ($14) or miso broth ($15).
97 E Main St, Smithtown, 631-780-6500, rakkiiramen.com
GOOD FOR FAMILY FUN
Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse, Carle Place
You’ll love the home game version of the dining room spectacle that occurs at Fogo de Chao in Carle Place. The "Full Churrasco Home Experience" ($110) feeds six and comes with five kinds of ready-to-cook meats (chicken, lamb, sausage and two cuts of beef — top sirloin and bottom sirloin). Grill and slice those, meanwhile setting out the side dishes — asparagus, mashed potatoes, strips of sweet-peppery bacon and Brazil’s legendary cheese bread, pão de queijo. Fogo’s servers are dressed like gauchos (the cowboys of South America) and at the restaurant move from table to table, plying customers with platters of skewered meats. Each diner receives a disk that is green on one side (meaning "serve me meat" in Fogo-speak) and red on the other ("please, no"). Join in the fun at home by drawing straws to see which family member will serve all the others as the evening’s gaucho (costume and red bandanna not included), and then pass out a coaster to the other diners. Play continues until everyone’s coasters are red or someone splits their pants.
235 Old Country Rd, Carle Place, 516-588-7100, fogodechao.com
BEST BURGER DEAL
Snaps American Bistro, Rockville Centre and Wantagh
As takeout began to account for more and more of Snaps’ business, chef-owner Scott Bradley reworked his weekly Thursday$5 burger special into a daily affair that includes four half-pound burgers for $25.99. To preserve the burgers’ integrity, the Cheddar-topped patties are packed in one container, the toasted sesame-seed buns and toppings in another. Takeout-friendly Parmesan-truffle fries ($6) are more challenging — they’re packed with holes poked in the box, but Bradley recommends at-home crisping in a hot oven or air fryer. Other sides include creamed spinach, mac-and-cheese, mashed potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes.
2010 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh, 516-221-0029 and 13 N. Park Ave., Rockville Centre, 516-517-2525, snapsrestaurant.com
The Halal Girls, Huntington
What patrons expect from a steaming-hot bowl of halal chicken over rice is tender spiced meat, perfectly cooked golden rice and a drizzle of white sauce (usually, yogurt and mayo) to deliver the velvety richness we crave. What they don’t necessarily expect is for it to be pretty. However, The Halal Girls in Huntington pushes the boundaries in their version ($7), with evenly slivered thigh meat, buoyant romaine lettuce and an artful drizzle of both white and hot sauces. In each bite, there is a swirl of cumin, coriander, pepper, maybe cardamom. Even the falafel wrap ($6) flirts with beauty — its plump fried-chickpea orbs are stained bright green from pulverized fresh herbs, and the pita wrap itself bursts open to one side into a riot of lettuce and diced tomatoes. The fries slap, and stay crisp longer than seems possible.
44 Gerard St., Huntington, 631-470-4313, halalgirls.com
MOST REWARDING DIY MEAL
Ssambap Korean BBQ, Stony Brook
Korean barbecue is one of the most engaging restaurant experiences you can have: Once the server has turned on the tabletop grill and delivered the raw meat and accoutrements, you’re on your own. Ssambap in Stony Brook rejiggered its barbecue menu for maximum involvement by takeout customers. Choose from nine meats (such as short ribs, ribeye, pork belly, chicken breast or seafood, $28 to $40) and it will be accompanied by fresh lettuce leaves and bean paste for wrapping — meat wrapped in greens is what Koreans call ssam; add rice and it becomes ssambap. You’ll also receive rice (white or multigrain with beans) and, as is customary with Korean meals, a slew of individual banchan (side dishes) including kimchi cabbage, tofu skin, pickled daikon, pickled cucumber and pickled onion. Want more to do? You can even request your meat raw and grill it yourself at home.
2350 Nesconset Hwy, Stony Brook, ssambapkbbq.com