Year of The Takeout Day 99: Late-Night Experiments in Cookery


First, a word of advice: Never take a “power” nap around 11 p.m. if you intend to wake up after 20 minutes, write about Chinese takeout, and go back to sleep. You will will wake up in a cold sweat up at 4 a.m. instead, realizing that you’ve put your critical project (or poorly executed performance-art piece, depending on how you see it) at risk.

Luckily, the Year of the Takeout team makes up for sleep — and all its stupid scheduling problems — with creativity.

YotT had intended to write about frozen shumai, but we’ve discovered an unaddressed, yet important, New York angle: tips on making food — Chinese and many other kinds — at 4 a.m. in a tiny, thin-walled apartment without waking up your roommate.

Indeed, this is a skill.

For starters, know that light can be just as annoying as kitchen sounds — even if you have a private room, it can still trickle under doors. If you don’t have a small flashlight (or an adjustable spelunker headlamp, who knows?), use your cell phone. Even if you don’t have a light app or option, refreshing the display usually does the trick.

Now that you can navigate your kitchen (kind of), know that noise is going to be the biggest issue. Don’t fumble forever with loud, crinkly plastic packaging in an attempt to be quieter — this tends to make things worse.

When it comes to cooking, any closed process — such as microwaving or baking — causes fewer noise problems than something out in the open, such as boiling or sautéing.

Try to avoid anything that emits bubbles and sizzles or requires stirring. And please: Just don’t chop, julienne, or dice anything. It’s 4 a.m. You don’t want to be that asshole.

Obvs, reheating is a more polite option than full-on meal-making. And microwaving, in YotT’s humble opinion, is your best bet. Some micros (and toaster ovens) have bells or buzzers. In that case, play the waiting game and keep an eye on the timer. Don’t leave your food unattended, or your roomie might hear the equivalent of an alarm clock that emits smells.

What else? Paper and foam plates rattle less than porcelain, and plastic flatware does not jangle as much as its metal equivalent.

YotT followed these guidelines, and JFC’s microwavable shrimp and edamame shumai, available at city groceries, turned out well without pissing off our nearest of neighbors.

Do you have any tips? Let us know in the comments!

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