A restaurant review by The Custodian
Pod is a too-hip-for-its-own-good sushi-plus restaurant in Philadelphia, PA. The main reason I can see for going there is the design aesthetic, which I can best describe as retro-Kubrickian; the joint is designed to immediately evoke memories (or nightmares) of the ultra-airline future shown in the early parts of the film 2001.
The restaurant is decorated entirely in white. Tables and chairs are plastic/composite, and shaped in "Sixties-ultramodern," which seems to comprise improbable-looking shapes intended to trigger awe at the implied materials science and engineering of the makers. Unfortunately, this also means that their actual Young's Modulus and breaking points are far lower than sanely engineered public restaurant furniture, so if you are (like me) overweight, you'll have to be damn-all careful not to move to quickly or lean the wrong way lest the things buckle or at least bend unexpectedly.
The 'fun' part of Pod is, I suppose, the colors. The white decor is intended to allow continuous and occasionally nauseating 'fun' with the colored lighting that has been installed. There are ring lights in the ceiling that cycle continuously through different color cycles, resulting in a slow and constant change of the color of all the white objects in the place - and the food, too. As part of the whole joke, the drinks are named for colors - rather than ordering a Cosmopolitan, for example, you order a 'purple.'
The main area of the restaurant (which includes a sushi bar surrounded by a conveyor system) doesn't change colors too far from neutral dim-white; but there are four enclosed seating areas in the corners ('pods') which have ribbon cutout windows connecting them to the main area. The lights inside these pods are controlled from a grid of large 'panic' buttons just inside the pod entry, so that the inhabitants can trigger color changes at whim. Thus, the long window cuts looking out onto the main floor usually glow some completely different color from the main restaurant, vividly.
To complete the entire motif, there are video screens embedded into various surfaces of the space which show silent film clips. While I was there, these all seemed to be 2001 (the film) or 'live anime' related, and many carried a small icon which proclaimed them 'Pod films.' Quite often, the screens would simply show the instantly-recognizable 'face' of the glowing red camera eye of HAL 9000.
The food is nice, overpriced, and not too impressive. I didn't eat at the sushi bar, which appeared to serve relatively normal sushi. The table sushi is usually 'interesting' in some structural manner; while the composition is standard, the stuff is built in some 'fun' postmodern way which usually makes it impossible to eat safely/cleanly/completely. There are other dishes available, usually with a twist, such as crab pad thai or Kobe beef. While tasty, they're all overpriced.
Near the cashier is a display case containing anime-related trinkets of all sorts. There was a standup ad on all the bar tables while I was there that prominently featured a pic of Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop; however, when asked for confirmation, the staff uniformly would adopt a confused expression and say "Who?"
The restaurant entrance is an enormous sign of the logo, and (one of the most fun bits of the place) appears to be an enormous Lite-Brite.
Three people with apps, food and drinks came to $135. While this isn't out of line for a good restaurant dinner, Pod seems to think its fun visual toys let it enter that class, and they're wrong. This is a great place to get taken to eat, or to go to when you're in a goofy mood and want to look at silly stuff, but if you're going out to eat mostly for the food, skip it.