Where do chefs go to eat on their nights off? We’re asking them — and they’re divulging the best things they’ve eaten in the last month in this weekly column.
The Chef: John Keller
The Gig: Chef/partner of Cherry Restaurants (355 West 16th Street; 212-929-5800)
Known For: Fearless gastropub fare
The Best Thing He Ate This Month: Salt-and-pepper shrimp at Wo Hop (17 Mott Street; 212-962-8617)
“Wo Hop is the best late-night food you’re going to find in the city. I go with friends after work — the classic chef-eating-at-three-in-the-morning. It’s the kind of restaurant that’s disappearing from the city. The atmosphere and service are casual, and there’s an old-school feel in there late-night, like you’re inside a piece of New York history. It’s been there forever and I’ve been going there forever, so it has a nostalgic feeling for me.
“My favorite dish is the salt-and-pepper shrimp. They’re simple, they’re fresh, you can taste each ingredient, and they’re all you need. And you know what’s wild? I don’t even really like shrimp that much. I find them boring, and I don’t often eat them in general. But these have an amazing texture; they’re fried perfectly so they’re crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. They’re not good for me, I know that, but at two or three in the morning I couldn’t care less.
“A Tsingtao beer with them is all I need. I’ve never been in during the day; it’s never even crossed my mind and I might look at it differently if [it] did. We have a special relationship. It’s there when I need it. I go in, handle my business, and then head home.”