Pod, Stephen Starr’s futuristic pan-Asian restaurant on the University of Pennsylvania campus, will come back in 2022 after being shut down for the pandemic.
After 21 years, it’s getting a full revamp — new design, concept, menu, and name: KPod.
Chef Peter Serpico will showcase dishes from his native South Korea and oversee KPod when it opens at 3636 Sansom St., perhaps in January. Serpico was the second-in-command for New York City’s David Chang for six years (Momofuku Ko, Momofuku Ssam, Ma Peche) until he left in early 2012. Starr brought him to Philadelphia to partner on the cutting-edge Serpico, which opened to great acclaim in 2013 on South Street near Sixth.
KPod’s menu will expand on what Serpico and Starr started at Pete’s Place, the takeout that they operated out of Serpico during the dining room shutdown. Pete’s Place was billed as “kinda Korean,” with flavors reflecting Serpico’s Korean heritage as well as his suburban-American upbringing in Laurel, Md. (This idea did not come out of the blue; Serpico and Starr had been working on another joint project for a few years.)
KPod’s menu will include seafood mandu, rice cake fries, spicy rice cakes, ramyuns, stews, kimchi pancakes, fried-rice dishes, and various dishes offered ssam-style (wrapped). Vegan dishes include Korean fried cauliflower, roast carrot mandu, and scallion pancakes.
Starr is changing the color palette. The retro-modern white lacquer surfaces with pops of color will give way to warm earth tones, with pink banquettes replacing the padded red “barge.”
Pod’s three signature dining “pods,” the semiprivate rooms that caused a stir when Pod opened in late 2000, will remain, though the lighting, whose color can be changed by the patrons, will be LEDs.
The sushi conveyor belt will be replaced by a raw bar, which Starr said would serve temaki. A split-flap sign — those low-tech signs seen at railroad stations — will be installed behind the raw bar to advertise the menu.
The restaurant has started hiring.