Sansho, named after the Sichuan peppercorn, is the creation on Paul Day, an Englishman who moved to Prague, opening Sansho in 2011. Paul started life as a butcher in Stafford, and then decided to become a chef. He moved to London and worked in a butcher's shop in Chinatown for a time, picking up some Cantonese language skills in the process, before getting a chef job at a London hotel. He became sous chef at Nobu in London, as well as working at the now defunct Michelin-starred Thai restaurant Nahm, After moving to Prague he opened both Sansho and a butcher shop called The Real Meat Society elsewhere in the city. He has developed relationships with a number of small Czech farmers and uses only animals from the Czech republic. A nose to tail enthusiast, he makes a variety of sausages in the shop and sells meat boxes by delivery van to the locals. He is very enthusiastic about his subject, and has now purchased a premises opposite the restaurant, which will become a bar serving food, opening in the summer of 2014.
Sansho is an informal restaurant near the river in Prague, a short walk from the old town, offering communal bench seating and a set menu only at dinner, with a la carte choices at lunch. The L shaped dining room seats 40, and in good weather there is additional outside seating in the pretty courtyard square.
The menu is quite eclectic, with a distinct Asian influence. As well as local artisan beers there are a few wines, including a Czech Pinot Noir that I tried, though Domaine Leroy will not be suffering too many sleepless nights over this wine. Salmon sashimi (CZK 180) with citrus soy was harmless enough, the dressing pleasant, though the salmon did not have much inherent flavour (12/20). Better was a soft shell crab slider with wasabi cream, the bun one of four breads made from scratch in the kitchen, the wasabi nicely judged and the crab avoiding any greasiness (14/20).
Pork belly with broccoli and three-pepper sauce (CZK 122.50) had good flavour, was not too fatty and had a pleasantly spicy sauce, the broccoli a touch undercooked (13/20). Smoked trout with green mango and coriander with a citrus dressing (CZK 122.50) was excellent, the trout having good flavour and the dressing enjoyably fresh (14/20).
Pumpkin with porcini was less interesting, while a rabbit jungle curry (CZK 210) had good rabbit but had a surprisingly bland, watery curry - in Thailand a jungle curry can be blisteringly hot, but this was tame, more hedgerow than jungle (11/20). Malaysian style roti bread was a little dense in texture but pleasant enough (12/20). Spicy clams with beef tendon had nicely flavoured beef tendon, though for me the spice level of the dish could have been lifted a notch or two (12/20). A dessert of chocolate cookies with peanut butter ice cream, cheesecake with caramel sauce and a steamed pudding felt like something of an afterthought (11/20).
Service was very good, friendly and efficient. The bill came to CZK 1,258 (£38) including some wine and beer. With the tapas format a typical bill will obviously depend on how much food you order, but a typical all-in cost per person of £30 with drinks is realistic, though you could certainly get away with less. Sansho offers a very pleasant experience, its staff enthusiastic.