Sushi School is Back in Session At Pod

No, your sushi won't look this good.

No, your sushi won’t look this good.

By Isabelle Gallicchio and Ella Torres

Last year Stephen Starr’s West Philly pan asian restaurant, Pod, launched an in-house Sushi School, taught by head sushi chef, Tomoyuki Takasu. After a successful first summer session, Pod decided to bring back the popular class this year. Sushi school provides hungry students the opportunity to learn how to prepare and roll their own sushi under the watchful and helpful eye of chef Taka. It’s also very popular with the first date crowd, in case you need some inspiration.

And because we kept hearing unceasing praise for Pod’s class, we decided to check it out ourselves. So last week, Foobooz went back to school…

Thanks to a couple of tardy students, we had some time to sit down with Takasu for a quick chat and a few laughs. Taka, as his friends call him, started practicing the art of sushi rolling over 20 years ago, right here in Philly. Beginning at 13th & Sansom for training, Taka moved his way up to Philadelphia sushi hot spots like Morimoto and Pod. And now, with 2 years behind him at Pod, he’s taken on the role of teacher at sushi school. And he’s damn good, too. Whether it was the notepad he used to remember everyone’s names, the dad-like sushi jokes or the individual encouragement, Taka knew how to run one helluva sushi class.

Sushi students start off with a glass of Pod’s house chard or pinot noir–a little something to settle the nerves and steady the hands, especially if you’re one of those hopeful romantics or just a generally anxious human. Another perk: there’s only 8 people to a lesson, allowing Taka to give more personalized attention to each student.

Before the hands-on part of class begins, participants are invited to munch on appetizers such as miso soup, a house salad with ginger dressing and Pod’s best seller, spicy tuna with crispy rice (YUM). Then it’s time to get down to business. Chef Taka takes the students through each step of preparing, filling, rolling and eating their own sushi. Students assemble two different rolls. The first, a California roll stuffed with avocado, cucumber and crab. The second, a spicy tuna hand roll, the more challenging of the two. Plus, you get to wear fancy sushi gloves while you’re at it. The class finishes off with a fruity sorbet and round of appreciation for chef Taka.

So whether you’re going for the sushi, the laughs or the impressive instagram pic, make sure you head over to Pod because, as Pod GM Laura Martin puts it, “even though school is out, sushi school is in.”

Sushi School (at $35 per person) is held Monday – Wednesday starting at 6:00 p.m. through August 20th. Reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling 215-387-1803.

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