Philadelphia, PA

Acclaimed Philadelphia Pan-Asian Restaurant POD is Reimagined as Kpod

Marilyn Johnson

STARR Restaurants is reopening University City’s celebrated Pod Restaurant – this time with a Korean American twist. On February 9, 2022, Pod will reopen its doors as Kpod – a Korean-American restaurant embodying the surging “K-Wave” global phenomenon celebrating Korean art, music, fashion, film, and food. Helmed by Executive Chef Peter Serpico, Kpod welcomes longtime city dwellers and youthful new arrivals alike, who will feel at home at this kinetic dining destination pulsing with energy.
STARR Restaurant's Pan-Asian Restaurant POD is now Kpod in University City.Courtesy of Cohere
“As one of Philadelphia’s most cherished restaurants over the past twenty years, Pod will always hold a special place in my heart,” says Restaurateur Stephen Starr. “However, as the world continues to evolve, so do we at STARR Restaurants. Today’s iconic K-Pop movement is forward-thinking and energetic as ever. Combining the music genre’s vibrant spirit with a taste of South Korean street food, Kpod celebrates one of the world’s most dynamic cultures and creates a restaurant experience unlike any other.”

An ultra-modern cultural oasis, Kpod translates South Korea’s signature ingenuity into a singular restaurant experience, bringing fun-filled, futuristic dining into the present. Diners can grab a drink at the bar or cozy up in a pod for family-style dining.

The menu, taking notes from Peter Serpico’s ghost kitchen concept, Pete’s Place, features classic and creative Korean American interpretations of South Korean cuisine. Highlights include a variety of Korean-style Hand Rolls alongside small plates including Seafood, Kimchi, and Vegetable Pancakes (Buchimgae), Korean Dumplings (Mandu) filled with Carrot and Tofu or Fried Pork and Kimchi, Spicy Rice Cakes, Rice Cake Tots and Honey Butter Fries.

An interactive Ssam section takes center stage on the menu, featuring a variety of meat and seafood options including Braised Short Rib served on the bone and Shrimp in Kimchi-Butter. Rice and noodle dishes include Korean favorites such as Stir-Fried Glass Noodles (Japchae) and Bibimbap, complimented by unique takes on Korean staples, such as the Creamy Rice Cakes with broccoli and black truffle oil in an elegant pecorino cream sauce. The Ramyun selection embraces straightforward and creative options, including the Korean Army Stew, a surprisingly delicious dish fusing traditional Korean and American elements, with origins stemming from the time American forces spent in Korea during the Korean War in the 1950’s.

“I’m honored to bring back a taste of Korean American cuisine to diners in Philadelphia” notes Executive Chef Peter Serpico. “The success of Pete’s Place proved that the city craves the bold, spicy and intense flavors that Korean cuisine provides. Kpod will take the Pete’s Place experience to a new level with a full-scale menu, in-person dining and an accompanying K-pop inspired environment.”

The beverage program at Kpod encapsulates the bright, vibrant and playful energy of the space. Naturally derived colors and bold flavors accentuate Kpod’s cocktails, taking notes from Pod’s original cocktail program where cocktails were named after the colored lights illuminating Pod’s booths. Wines featured on the menu include global selections drawing from the world of natural and low intervention winemaking. Craft beers, ciders, Korean Soju, and sparkling rice wine round out the menu.

In true STARR Restaurants fashion, the experience at Kpod expands beyond food and drink, with creativity seen in the restaurant’s design, custom commissioned artwork, thoughtful music selections, and more.

What started off as a quick refresh of the original Pod interior space turned into a full concept update led by Stokes Architecture + Design. Ultra-modern banquettes serve as eye-catching centerpieces in both the lounge and dining room, bordered by ample counter seating, freestanding tables, and intimate recessed booths.

Bold hues, striking patterns, and other contemporary overtures establish Kpod’s signature aesthetic. Additional subtle Korean-inspired design elements, including natural woods, plywood paneled ceilings and focused lighting bring warmth and culture into the space. In a nostalgic salute to Pod, the coveted color-changing “pods” remain available for group dining.

“Redesigning such an iconic restaurant is an exciting accomplishment for our team,” begins Launce Saunders, Director of Design, Stokes Architecture + Design. “We found ways to finesse the original design while installing some fresh, quirky visuals. Guests who remember the former restaurant will still see it, just through a new lens.”

The space has no shortage of photo-worthy moments, including a bespoke mural spanning two walls crafted by South Philly artist, David Guinn, and a custom-built, pink hanging split flap sign above the bar serving as an homage to the recently removed train schedule sign at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.

Kpod is located in Philadelphia’s University City neighborhood at 3636 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19104 and will operate for dinner service Tuesday – Thursday from 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Friday – Saturday from 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm, and Sunday from 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm. The restaurant also plans to open for lunch beginning in the spring of 2022. At its full capacity, the restaurant can accommodate up to 200 guests.

Marilyn Johnson is a freelance food and travel writer covering the food and drink scene of Philadelphia, South Jersey, and beyond. Food news: Travel tips:

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Marilyn Johnson is a Philadelphia area-based food and travel writer focusing on food & drink in the Mid-Atlantic region. Email for Philly area news; for travel tips and opportunities.

Philadelphia, PA

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