When Pod closed in 2020, Philadelphia lost one of its most exciting places to eat a meal. It was somewhere that people would celebrate their birthdays year after year, wait outside for 40 minutes like it was nothing, and brag to everyone they knew about their night hanging out in the glowing pod seats. Between the futuristic neon-lit bathrooms and zooming sushi conveyor belts, it didn’t really matter what you ate because the atmosphere was so cool.
The University City spot’s return in 2022 came with a lot of buzz, especially since it’s helmed by the former head chef from Serpico. And although they've slightly toned down the futuristic feel (you don’t quite feel like you’re a passenger on the Starship Enterprise anymore), the restaurant finally has a delicious and large Korean menu that’s on par with the exciting dining room. That makes Kpod one of the most fun restaurants in Philly—maybe even more so than the original.
On top of the menu overhaul, the restaurant also revamped the conveyor belt into a sushi bar with a pink sign that resembles an old-school arrival/departure board at a train station—flipping tiles and all. In addition to that, the neon-lit halls, long table seating, and the shuffle of top 40 music playing through the speakers still make Kpod a lively place for a group dinner or date night. When you’re here, you’ll likely see a mix of Penn students who seem to be excited they’re nowhere near a laptop, tourists who chose to avoid Center City for the evening, and a few locals who have brought their out-of-town guests to experience a menu with tons of variety and choices.
The menu here is really big, with lots of different Korean options like kimchi and pork ramyun, handrolls, bibimbap, and many types of banchan. Start your meal with things like shrimp cocktail, sashimi that comes with soy sauce and chili paste, and an order of the light, seafood-loaded pancake. Make sure you get at least one or two things from each section of the menu (since it’s all good), and then focus on a shareable plate to round out your meal—the skirt steak and spicy rice cakes are standouts and both are big enough to feed multiple people.
You’ll probably spend a good amount of time going over the menu because they have one of the longest ones out of any Korean spot in the city. It’s a food selection that shows off the wide range of the cuisine, and they pull off everything really well. That’s exactly what makes Kpod feel like the restaurant that Pod wanted to be all along.
So, this place better not close again, or we’re going to riot. That’s because when we want a fun night out, where we can snack on banchan, gather with friends in a dining room that makes us feel like we’re at a dinner party set in the year 3000, there’s only one place to find it all. And that’s at Kpod.
There are eight mini vegetable side dishes here. Half are vegan, and they’re usually bowls of something pickled. Options include sweet soy pickles, napa cabbage kimchi, steamed spinach, and potato salad, and you should absolutely order a couple so you can snack on them throughout the meal. Usually they're free at other Korean spots, but here you’ll have to pay around $2.50 for each. But that’s OK because they’re all really good.
The balance of fluffiness, oniony flavor, and the fact that it's made out of shrimp, crab, and scallops makes this pancake good enough to kick other versions around town to the B-squad. Order it to start your meal.
Korean Fried Chicken
You can hear a loud crackle each time you bite into these wings. They come glossed with a peppery and sweet glaze, and you’ll also get a side of sesame ranch and pickled radish. If you only come here and order this plate, you’d still leave happy.
Spicy Tuna Handroll
Like a fun-sized candy bar or your favorite Dua Lipa shirt, these handrolls do not work for sharing. But you must order them. This roll has a lot of scallions along with a spicy kick from the chili-infused mayo. This is the handroll to get here.
This pouch of ground beef, garlic, and ginger is chewy, and each bite is bursting with juice on the inside. It’s a small plate to get when you're in the mood for a dish that’s not wrapped in seaweed or lettuce.
Grilled Skirt Steak
This is the best entree here, with Asian pear-marinated strips of garlicky steak. It comes with lettuce wraps, and if anyone saw how we ravenously eat them, they’d have some pretty good blackmail photos.
Rice Pudding Mandu
This warm pouch is full of bits of pears, creamy rice pudding, and a ginger syrup that you barely taste. It’s not a dessert that you should go out of your way for, but it is a pleasant way to end your meal.