Let them eat sushi! Back by popular demand, STARR Restaurants’ Pod returns to University City, favoring the Japanese fare that made the restaurant so popular at its inception over twenty years ago.

Reviving Pod: Starr Restaurants Returns to University City

“Pod was open for two decades pre-pandemic, host to countless celebrations and some of Philadelphia’s favorite memories with STARR Restaurants,” begins Restaurateur Stephen Starr. “When we reopened the space as Kpod, our customers kept asking us, ‘where’s the sushi?’ So, we listened and decided to transition the space back to its original conception – a Japanese restaurant and Izakaya. We are looking forward to Pod’s newest iteration and welcoming back those who’ve missed us. We’ve missed you too.”


With a menu celebrating traditional Japanese ingredients and flavors universally beloved by all, Pod will return as a “grown up” version of the original concept with a more refined menu. Highlights include a variety of cold dishes – including Sunomono Seaweed Salad, Donburi, and Lobster Roll Bao – alongside hot dishes such as Snow Crab Croquettes, Crispy Pork Gyoza, Wagyu Gyudon, Miso Seabass and more.


Heartier items include a selection of noodles and rice dishes – from Mentaiko Spaghetti (a Tokyo staple) to Pork Ramen and Crab Fried Rice – and a full Robata (Japanese Grill) section – including Yuzu Prawns, Smoked Pork Belly, Beef Short Rib and more. For serious beef enthusiasts, the menu spotlights the A5 Shabu Yaki Don, a prime cut of Japanese Hokkaido snow beef sliced paper thin and flash grilled, served in the traditional style with sukiyaki sauce and an egg.


Pod’s menu was developed in partnership with Corporate Chef Mark Hellyar and will be executed day-to-day by Executive Chef Kenjiro Omori. Hellyar, who has spent years studying culinary technique and tradition in Japan, has worked with numerous award-winning restaurant groups including Chicago BOKA Group, Gordon Ramsay North America, and a long tenure with STARR Restaurants.


“I’ve created a menu that embraces the essence of the original Pod, but with a little more elevation, polish and Japanese tradition,” says Hellyar. “Those who’ve spent time overseas will appreciate a nod to the classics, while those who are newer to the cuisine will find familiar Japanese American favorites. Between the updated menu and the restaurant’s intrinsic energy that defined the space for two decades, diners will fall in love with Pod all over again.”


While Pod’s signature conveyor belt remains in the past, the sushi menu is back and better than ever. Helmed by acclaimed Chef Kevin Yanaga, Pod’s former Lead Sushi Chef, the sushi menu includes a variety of rolls and maki – from classics like Spicy Tuna and Salmon, Rainbow Rolls and Philly Rolls – to signature Butter Krab Rolls, Grilled Chilean Sea Bass, and the Surf & Turf Roll filled with American wagyu, lobster, and truffle soy. Sushi and Sashimi is also included, offered at two pieces per order, as traditional offerings plus creative and elevated preparations including Fluke Tomato, Smoked Shima-Aji and Foie Gras.


With new food comes new beverage. Kpod’s signature crowd pleaser, the “Champ-pop” cocktail (house citrus sake, chic cava and fruit boba) has been updated and, supplemented by new boozy concoctions like the Bird of Paradise” (Goslings Bermuda black rum, Aperol, lime, pineapple) and a “Hi-ball section” with both traditional and innovative interpretations of the Japanese classic cocktail. The beverage menu is rounded out with a strong sake program – including a house-infused Citrus Sake – alongside a selection of wines, beers and non-alcoholic options.


Located at 3636 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19104, Pod is open for dinner Monday – Thursday 5pm – 10pm and Friday/Saturday 5pm-11pm. At its full capacity, the restaurant can accommodate up to 200 guests including three signature semi-private dining “pods” for parties between 6 to 12.


About Pod

Escape across the globe to Eastern Asia with a transportive meal at Pod. Returning to the fare that made the restaurant popular at its inception, the menu is a celebration of Japanese ingredients and flavors that are beloved by all. An homage to traditional cooking techniques, the food is fresh and delicious with a touch of flair for fun. Enjoy mouthwatering dishes like Wagyu beef cooked tableside on hot stones, Pork Ramen or Yuzu Prawn Robata that satisfy the soul. Or, for something a little more modern, treat yourself to signature items like Japanese Fried Chicken and Lobster Bao Buns. Sushi also takes its place at the table with nigiri, sashimi and maki created by Kevin Yanaga, our former lead Sushi Chef. Sake and specialty drinks take the experience up a notch for a perfectly well-rounded evening out. Stimulating all the senses, a meal at Pod is a taste of the past and a look to the future – we’ve missed you.

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About STARR Restaurants  

Founded in 1995 by Stephen Starr, Philadelphia-based STARR Restaurants is one of the largest multi-concept restaurant groups in the country. With 35 total properties in 4 markets, plus one virtual concept, STARR continues to be an industry titan in merging culinary artistry with cutting-edge design; so much so that in 2017 Stephen Starr was presented with the “Outstanding Restaurateur” award by the James Beard Foundation. STARR Restaurants include Buddakan, Morimoto, El Vez, Continental Mid-Town, Barclay Prime, Parc, Butcher and Singer, Pizzeria Stella, El Rey, The Ranstead Room, The Dandelion, Pod, Talula’s Garden, Talula’s Daily, The Love, LMNO, Frankford Hall, and Fette Sau in Philadelphia; as well as Le Diplomate, St Anselm, and the recently opened bakery Bread Alley in DC. New York is home to Buddakan, El Vez, La Mercerie, The Clocktower, Upland, Pastis, Electric Lemon, and the critically acclaimed, James Beard Award winning Le Coucou. STARR Restaurants expanded to Florida with Steak 954 and El Vez at the W Hotel Fort Lauderdale, Makoto and Le Zoo in the Bal Harbour Shops, and Pastis in Miami.