SaSaZu

SaSaZu

          “Sometimes I’m so sweet even I can’t stand it.” Julie Andrews

A few months ago, I heard about SaSaZu, a fancy, Asian-inspired restaurant in Holešovická tržnice.



I didn’t feel the urge to rush over.

Why?

The offerings on the online menu looked tasty, but I figured the omission of prices meant they would be similar to those at Buddha-Bar. Meaning very high.

But a couple of friends, Dan The Man and Miss Montana, went there for dinner one night and called me to report that the prices were much lower than they expected.

That’s all I needed to know. I hopped in a taxi with G-Man, and we joined them after their first round of dishes.

The interior certainly has some similarities to Buddha-Bar. What SaSaZu’s terracotta statues lack in size, they make up for in quantity.

The restaurant also has the dim lighting and artsy fixtures in its cavernous, warehouse-like space.

Next to the restaurant, in a separate space, is one of Prague’s biggest dance clubs, also called SaSaZu.

I’ve seen posters advertising big name DJ’s as well as concerts by the likes of Macy Gray.

My picture didn’t come out so well, but you can get a better idea of how it looks on YouTube.

Dishes ordered by Dan and his Miss arrived shortly after we did. After we were handed hot towels for washing up, she received her “Red Curry Beef and Shrimps” (255 CZK).

It had a coconut milk base and reminded me of a massaman curry I had recently in the USA. There were also snow peas, Thai eggplant, and basil.

It was quite sweet, but regular readers will know that I tend to like sweet dishes if they are not too over the top, especially Thai. I didn’t get a taste of the beef or shrimp in the bowl, but the menu said the meat was cooked over an open fire.

Dan The Man had the Vietnamese Ga Curry (145 CZK). We all thought, of the two dishes, this was even better.

It had the clear flavor of tamarind and there was also turmeric. There was chicken under that sweet sauce.

On the side were white noodles and cleanly cut pieces of lettuce with cilantro. The waiter explained that they were for dipping in the sauce, not necessarily for making rolls with the chicken.

G-Man got the Coconut Corn Soup (90 CZK). There was a small cup, filled with yakitori chicken, basil, and shiitake mushroom.

It was very corny and very sweet. Almost dessert-like. It was certainly not for someone looking for something savory.

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He also had the “Hanoi Shrimps” (140 CZK). This came with a generous portion of large, perfectly prepared tempura-fried shrimp. Crispy on the outside, delicate and tender on the inside.

The dashi-cream sauce with green onion and sweet potato was not as sweet as some of the others. It didn’t make a strong impression on the shrimp. But it had an enjoyable, subtle flavor on its own.

G-Man ordered the SaSa Crispy Roll (220 CZK). It was a tuna and salmon roll which was steamed and then fried.

It was crispy on the outside with quality fish on the inside. There was a little seaweed salad on the side.

I started out ordering what was called the “7+5 Asian Spice” (240 CZK).

On top was the five-spice beef. I can’t name the five, but I can tell you the thinly sliced meat was indeed spicy and also well-seasoned. There was also the strong presence of sesame oil, some thought a little too much.

Underneath, there were red onions, mint, bean sprouts, rucola, and daikon. The seven spices, also known as shichimi tōgarashi, are mostly made up of ground red chili pepper.


I loved the creamy mustard sauce on the side. It was quite mild, but had a tangy taste I couldn’t get enough of.

All the dishes at SaSaZu are on the small side, but I thought this one, in particular, though I liked it, was too small for the price in my book.

I drank a Pilsner Urquell. I wasn’t happy that they only serve it in .3 liter glass, and it costs 55 CZK. Just out of curiosity, I did the math, and it would be 92 CZK for a half-liter.

I had the Stone Oven Crispy Duck (140 CZK). This was my least favorite dish of the night.

It was a version of Peking duck. The duck itself was pretty good, very tender.

It came with a sweet sauce, Chinese pancakes, scallions, and cucumber with the untraditional addition of foie gras. However, the pancakes had a very strong flour-like flavor that overwhelmed the ingredients inside.

I was on a mission to try lots of stuff, and they suggest you try something from the five sections of the menu.

So I ordered the Tai Tai Truffle Entrecote (295 CZK). The small piece of beef was very thinly sliced. It had a lovely smoky taste from the grill.

The ends were cooked medium rare, but a few slices in the middle were almost raw. I didn’t mind so much, but it could have been better.

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The sweet sauce tasted of ginger and truffle. I found the combination somewhat odd, though not necessarily bad. I didn’t love it, but the others at the table all raved about it.

On the side was a coconut rice cake that the waiter told me had mung bean in the center. I liked it, but it was like a rice pudding dessert.

I got the Pepper Calamari, which was akin to a small salad (120 CZK). It had some my favorite flavors, kaffir lime leaf, cilantro, and basil.

The fried squid were delicious, but too small and too few. And there was far too much red onion. That overshadowed the good parts.

My favorite dish, overall, on this visit was the “Singapore Crab Chilli” (170 CZK). On the plate was a small, lightly fried soft-shell crab.

On the side was a delicious, sweet and spicy dipping sauce with a strong flavor of peanut.

Soft-shell crab is not something I’ve personally seen in Prague before. V said she had it once at Kampa Park.


This one was just perfect — fresh white meat inside with the unique flavor of the crispy shell on the outside.

It also came with a small dish of very salty broth on the side. In it was what appeared to be a gelatinous ball of soaked rice paper. It was…interesting.

I liked the crab so much; I took V for another visit.

Immediately after sitting down, the waiter walked up with a bottle of Panna still water and, without asking, poured us two glasses and set the bottle down.


They charge 100 CZK for this bottle, and the presumptuousness really annoyed us.

“I think we should tell the guy to take it away,” I said.

“I know, but I do want water,” V answered, but she added. “That’s not very nice.”

“Next time, we make him change it for water with gas,” I said.

V ordered a Campari (115 CZK) with orange juice (50 CZK). Be aware that they charge separately for each, so the mixed drink cost 165 CZK. Her later glass of Czech Sauvignon Blanc cost 125 CZK.

V had the Singapore Crab Chili and loved it. She also liked the Ga Curry.

Then, she ordered the Papasan Scallops (180 CZK). There were three thin slices of scallop buried under a mild, not-too-sweet laksa sauce.

That sauce was nice, tasting of galangal, lime leaf, and coconut milk. There was also a tiny seaweed salad on the side.

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On this trip, I tried the Empire Saigon Roll (90 CZK). It was small but had a good combination of flavors, with one big shrimp through the middle.

Inside, there was mint, basil, and peanut. The dish had a terrific coconut mint sauce on the side. But the whole thing was gone in four small bites.

I got the chicken dim sum (120 CZK). I ate one of the dumplings alone and tasted a bit of chicken and cilantro, but more of the dough.

The yakitori sauce on the side was great, salty, sour, and sweet. It helped a lot.

Finally, I had what the menu calls “Pathai” but the receipt lists more properly as “phad-thai” (195 CZK). It looked very interesting, with the glass noodles, chicken, cilantro, and bean sprouts, wrapped in a thin and delicate egg pouch.

I broke it open so you could see inside. Peanuts were sprinkled around the outside and a shrimp sat on top.

This was a major disappointment. The interior was drowned in a super sweet chili sauce. I tried mixing it all up. I tried squeezing lemon on it. Nothing helped. I couldn’t even finish this candy-like creation.

After the meal, I tried to sort through my feeling about SaSaZu. The prices were not as high as I expected, but the portions were also quite small — something akin to appetizers or tapas. A meal for two could run around 1200 CZK, which is still far less than a Buddha-Bar dinner.

Some dishes fell flat, but there were a few I’d go for again.

I think I could enjoy a meal there more now that I know the lay of the land, making smart selections.


I’d probably get the Ga Curry, which is one of the more substantial and well-priced items.

And I’d get the soft-shell crab. Perhaps even two orders of that. It would still be a bargain. The Hanoi Shrimp was also nice for the price.

Miss Montana said it would all be so much enjoyable if there was a better balance of salty and sour flavors along with the sweet. Even with my sweet tooth, I agree.

Julie Andrews would fit right in at SaSaZu.

SaSaZu
Holešovická tržnice
Bubenské nábřeží 306
Prague 7
Tel. (+420) 284 097 444


Brewsta

A long-time resident of Prague. A former resident of New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and London. I'm a peripatetic patron of Prague's restaurants and bars. I started Prague's first English-language food and drink blog, Czech Please, in 2007 to share my experiences. I've been blogging on Expats.cz since April 2009.

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