If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, we don’t have to explain who Paul Day is. We don’t have to explain that he came here from London, single-handedly put the heritage breed of the Prestik Pig back on the map, and together with his partner Misa, he is the driving force behind the organic butchers of The Real Meat Society. We also don’t have to explain that Prague has a sizable Vietnamese community and that we have, as a result, great access to Asian ingredients from the Vietnamese Sapa market. So what is there to explain? Sansho is, with a big degree of simplification, what Momofuku is to New York City: a place where local foodies and chefs go for great flavors served in a casual, unfussy atmosphere and environment.
How much do local foodies love this place? When we wrote our piece about places in Prague where foodies love to eat, none of the food critics and bloggers we reached out to chose Sansho because it was "so obvious that somebody else would surely mention it", so in the end we had to put it in ourselves. Sansho was truly a revelation when it opened some four years ago. Communal tables in a society that likes privacy. Fresh interiors devoid of virtually any decorations. Asian dishes going beyond the cheap Chinese food lunches. Made by a British chef. A strong focus on whole animal butchery and ethical eating. Paul has come, looked around and set some trends that many have tried (and most of them failed) to follow ever since. There are a few places in Prague that could compete with the best in the bigger cities like London or New York City and stand the test with flying colors, but Sansho is definitely one of them.
Now, we love Sansho for two things mostly. First, there’s the food. We could honestly lick every plate. When you marry the best Czech protein with some authentic Asian flavors from the Sapa market and add awesome cooking skills, you clearly have a winner on your hands. Second, there’s Paul Day. His enthusiasm and drive are contagious. He dances around Sansho and Maso a kobliha next door, welcoming the novices, meeting the regulars, making fun of most of them (you don’t want to see the texts he’s been sending us) and creating a community of fellow foodies who will come back again and again. And if you go there too, you might be a part of it sooner than you’d think.
When to come: Sansho serves a-la-carte lunches until 3pm, then shuts down and reopens for set menu dinners at 6pm. We love getting there for a late lunch. The place is emptier and you have more time to chat with the staff!
Where to sit: The long table in the left corner when you enter the restaurant. The location is strategic: you can see who’s coming in, who’s cooking in the kitchen, and anything in between.
What to order: Jan likes to argue that Sansho’s pork belly with hoisin sauce and watermelon is the best dish in Prague. Period. The soft shell crab sliders are a classic, too. The beef rendang is fantastic. We could go on.
Runners up: The smoked trout salad is one of Zuzi’s favorites, just like the salmon sashimi with sesame oil and the gyoza dumplings with shrimp and salmon roe. But it’s all good, really.
What to beware of: Reservations are quite necessary for evenings, but you can usually just walk in for lunch. Also, Sansho is not for those who are looking for “picturesque” settings, silverware and bows from staff with white gloves.
Instagram-worthiness: Super high if you persuade Paul Day to take a selfie with you. You’ll join a long list of celebrities who have done the same.