Friday, February 3, 2012


I have not been to Pod since I was in college - was that really 10 years ago? Ugh. Every time we think about going, we end up at Hikari in Northern Liberties, Zento in Old City, or Fat Salmon on Washington Square. The sushi at all three is great, and the first two are BYO. So why bother trekking all the way to University City for it? Because Pod has a sushi conveyor belt. Because they serve a great martini. And because you can sit in a color changing Pod while everyone else wishes they were as cool. It's the perfect place for date night - whether it's a first or the 100th.

martini's - up, very dirty. 
We were surprised to see how many kids were dining on sushi. I suppose it's a reflection on the local neighborhood and the gentrification that follows the Penn Grade School on Spruce. Parents in their late 30's and early 40's, couple of kids in tow, lots of J.Crew outfits for the family. It's also a sign of the times - we never went for sushi when I was younger. Partly because it was so expensive, but growing up in South Jersey it wasn't exactly readily available. Kids grow up eating California & Philly rolls now. They know the proper etiquette for how to mix the wasabi with the soy sauce. And they can tell you the difference between sashimi & nigiri. Here's hoping that someday my kids end up with an affinity for spicy tuna and the dexterity to use chopsticks at age 7.

edamame & mushroom sweet pea dumplings
Edamame. Steamed soybean pods sprinkled with salt. Standard and required appetizer for all sushi meals. It also keeps surprisingly well in the freezer. And if you're not intimidated by the Asian grocery stores and the weird smells that emanate from them, you can get a bag of your own for just a few dollars. Along with the edamame (which was great, by the way), we got an order of the mushroom & sweet pea dumplings. Served with some sesame soy sauce, they were absolutely delicious. Lightly sauteed mushrooms with just barely steamed, perfectly fresh peas brought a great sweetness alongside the savory mushroom and wonton rapper. So light but so substantial. I could eat a dozen of these. Really really tasty.

spicy tuna crispy rice
All by it's lonesome at the top of the sushi menu is the Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice. There's a reason it gets top billing. It was one of the best things we had all night. I've never tasted anything like it before. A nearly perfectly rectangular block of rice, fried just to a crisp, topped with a beautiful piece of tuna and a spicy serrano chili sauce. It's the luscious fish and the crispy rice playing this wonderful game of competing textures, with just enough heat from the serranos & jalapeno. Stellar.

shiro-aoi maki / spicy crunchy yellowtail maki
A couple of very good maki rolls for dinner. A spicy crunchy yellowtail maki with mango & jalapeno was delicious. The sweet and spice balanced perfectly plus a little crunch for a contrast of texture with the fish. Also great was the Shiro-aoi - a spicy white tuna maki with avocado, topped with yellowtail and jalapeƱo. It's a big piece of sushi, which made eating it in one bite a bit of a challenge, but totally worth the jaw un-hinging routine. The whole slice of jalapeno on top will wake you up if you've gotten sleepy from the martinis and dumplings. Superb pieces of tuna and some luscious avocado make for a great roll.

fufffernutter spring rolls & vanilla bean mousse

Dessert was a hit and a miss. Vanilla bean mousse, done up like a piece of cheese cake, on a graham cracker crust with ginger caramelized bananas reads a lot better than it tastes. Honestly, I was expecting much more than the bland and boring creation that came out. 

More than making up for it though were the Fluffernutter Spring Rolls.  Yes, you read that right. Remember fluffer-nutter sandwiches? The clear sign that your mom really did love you when you were 9? Pod has done their own spin on it with a fluff spring roll, served with a terrine of chocolate peanut butter sauce for dipping. Incredible. One of the best desserts I've had. Ever. 

So happy that we finally made it back around to Pod. It's everything that Starr does well. Elaborate interior. Pricey but good drinks. Fun atmosphere. Very good food. There's a reason this guy has two dozen restaurants. Surprise you're better half with some sushi and Jetson's furniture for your next date night. Maybe even snag a seat at the conveyor belt if you want a show during dinner. And don't forget the Fluff. 


Food Baby Rating - Twins!

3636 Sansom Street  
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3212
(215) 387-1803

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