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Philly’s POD Restaurant provides pricey pan-asian perfection

POD Restaurant in Philly is one of the Starr Restaurant’s funkiest ventures, featuring bright colors and space-age seating arrangements. The food is excellent pan-Asian, but the price may be steep for students on a budget.

Once in a while spending some extra cash on a great meal is worth every penny, especially when the restaurant’s décor is equally as awesome as the food. Pod is one of those restaurants.

Pod is among many restaurants in the Starr Restaurant Organization. According to, SRO was founded by Steven Starr in 1995 and has established restaurants mainly Philadelphia but also has some in New York, Atlantic City, and Fort Lauderdale. The long list of restaurants seem to explore the world, with themes taking you everywhere from Mexico to Paris. Whether you’re in the mood for fresh sushi or a piece of pizza, SRO has a restaurant to satisfy your craving.

Having eaten at multiple SRO restaurants such as Buddakan, Continental Midtown, and Butcher and Singer, Pod is so far my favorite.

Pod is a Pan-Asian restaurant located in the University City area of Philadelphia. Stepping through the doors of Pod is like entering a different dimension.

The hostess was very polite and inviting but it was hard to focus on her greeting as I was immediately distracted by the uniquely designed restaurant. The vibe was like The Jetsons meets Sex in the City. The long room is primarily white with neon accents and a fluorescent effect.

As you enter, the bar is to your left and a large maze-like soft plastic red couch sits in the middle of the room. A few steps down take you into the dining area where different seating options are available depending on the size of your group. Elevated along the wall to your right are built in tables and chairs each set sectioned off from the other, high single-paned windows make the area perfect for couples.

To the left is a sushi bar with a conveyor belt and stool seating. There are “pods” for larger groups which is an enclosed booth with colorful changing lights inside. Smaller pods seat 6-8 people and larger ones 10-12. The center of the room is filled with contemporary tables and chairs.

The room had a comfortable vibe. Upbeat music played at a reasonable volume allowing for conversation, creating a great atmosphere for a few cocktails. I ordered “Pink,” ($9) a mixture of champagne, pineapple and cranberry juice. It was served in a frosted martini glass, allowing the vibrant pinkish color of the drink to pop. The bubbles from the champagne were refreshing while the juices gave a sweet but tangy taste. It’s definitely a dangerous drink; it tasted more like juice than alcohol.

The crab spring rolls ($17) were the appetizers, and they were something that could be eaten everyday without a problem. The rolls were filled with soft shredded crab meat, distributed perfectly throughout so that every bite was satisfying. There was no mush or grease here, just a light flakey crisp. It was severed with a sweet chili sauce which was a nice touch but not needed.

For lunch the menu has everything from fish to wasabi crusted filet mignon to sushi. While picking just one type of sushi can be hard, they offer a 28 piece assortment ($28). It was served on a large wooden dish that can spin which makes it perfect for sharing. Each piece was filled with flavor and the freshness of the fish was undeniable. The shrimp tempura roll was by far the best. The combination of the crunch from the perfectly cooked shrimp and the softness of the rice made the roll very enjoyable. One would think that 28 pieces was plenty for three people, but that was not the case here as everyone at the table was left wanting more.

Along with the sushi we got crab fried rice ($16). The size of the bowl was more like another entrée then a side. Again, there was plenty of crab in every bite. If it didn’t have so many onions this would of been another great dish.

After a great meal and very enjoyable atmosphere our bill came to about $70 plus tip and taxes which isn’t bad at all for an every now and then lunch date.

According to first time pod customer Eileen Hope from Newtown Pennsylvania her beef brisket was reasonably priced.

“It’s a beautiful piece of meat for $14 and totally worth it,” said Hope.

The beef brisket laid on a sourdough roll with lightly battered tempura vegetables on the side and was plated on a piece of slate. Hope said it was the most tender piece of beef she’s ever had in her life.

“The meat was so tender I had to do very minimal chewing,” said Hope.

When asked if she would return to Pod Hope answered, “absolutely.”

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