Pod – More than Meets the Eye

I am that rare breed of woman who really enjoys being proved wrong.
Like I was about Pod, a trendy restaurant in West Philadelphia.

The vibe inside this hip place is bachelorette party-anime cartoon-Jetsons chic. Think changing LED lights, a revolving sushi counter, and namesake “pod” booths along the windows. The joint was jumping on a Friday night, but it seems very sceney – not really the type of place that would have great food. 
Being wrong can be so awesome. 

Lychee Margarita with Spicy Salt Rim
One of the best drinks I have had in recent memory. Smooth, high quality tequila with fresh lime and the sweet, almost velvety taste and mouthfeel of the lychees. The lychee erases the need for sweet syrups that give me sugar hangovers, and the spicy salted rim cuts through the burn of the tequila and the sweetness of the lychee. It is balanced and light – a perfect way to start the meal. 

Chicken Potstickers with Mustard Aioli
Crisp, thin wrappers surrounding juicy nuggets of chicken, onion, and ginger. Sweet and savory, there is another layer added when the crisp morsels are dipped into the zippy mustard sauce. There is a good kick of horseradish there, and the taste is far more mustard-y than mayonnaise-y, letting the taste of the chicken shine through.

Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice with Serrano Chili
Similar to the dish at Koi, with creamy, fresh tuna, the heat from a sliver of Serrano chiles, and that rice. That incredible rice – sweet, sticky, and salty with steaming insides and crunchy edges, crackling pleasantly next to the smooth texture of the tuna. It could have been a tad spicier, but, then, what couldn’t be spicier in my book?

Rockin’ Spicy Tuna Roll – Spicy Tuna Roll Topped with Tempura Rock Shrimp and Spicy Aioli

This is top notch sushi. Don’t let the flashing lights and admittedly frou-frou cocktails distract you – this sushi is excellent, on par with many serious sushi restaurants. Each grain of rice is perfectly al dente, slightly sweet with rice vinegar. The seaweed is nutty and crisp surrounding the smooth, fatty tuna. Crunchy rock shrimp, sugary and meaty within its light batter, drizzled with a spicy, not to say hot, aioli. Spicy, sweet, soft, and crunchy. With a quick smear of wasabi, this didn’t even need soy sauce. It is a fantastic sushi roll. 

Cauliflower Robata with Balsamic Teriyaki Glaze
The most surprising dish of the night. This totally vegan dish is incredibly meaty! The combination of balsamic and teriyaki is a double dose of umami, and paired with tender, almost creamy cauliflower, it’s an undeniably decadent tasting dish. Yet, it’s so light that it could be a diet food. Cooked on the robata, which is a Japanese charcoal grill, the outside is charred and crisp while the inside becomes soft, though not mushy. The glaze is sweet, sour, and piquant, and the result is memorable in every way.

Fluffernutter Spring Rolls with Dark Chocolate Sauce
Fried eggroll wrappers filled with marshmallow cream and melting creamy peanut butter. Dipped in a thin dark chocolate glaze, it’s bitterness cutting through the sweetness and richness of the eggroll.

It was warm and it was sensational.

Pod really proved me wrong. Though the vibe is kind of trendy, the food is anything but. It is expertly prepared, served by knowledgeable waitstaff, in a gorgeous, upbeat setting. I really can’t think of any place in NYC that matches food of this caliber with such unpretentious service. Nor can I think of anywhere serving better cauliflower.
And, trust me when I say that any woman would love to be proved wrong by dining here and enjoying it. 

Pod on Urbanspoon