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A Hidden Restaurant Inside an NYC Russian Bathhouse

A Hidden Restaurant Inside an NYC Russian Bathhouse

-The Russian bath is definitely
a diamond in the rough. Some people who come,
they don’t really know what they’re getting into.
-Welcome to Russian Bath. ♪♪ This place been since 1892,
my friend. -This bathhouse is older
than the Empire State Building. We have a lot of people
who come in from the street. They see
the Russian-Turkish Bath, and then they look
to their left, and they see the restaurant, and they see all this Russian
traditional food, as well. -It’s one of the best
Russian food here, man, in New York City. Everybody comes here,
they eat our borscht. We have customers
who don’t go downstairs. They just come to eat.
-It is really a surprise because food’s very amazing. It’s a really good place. -We don’t do any advertising. It’s mostly word of mouth. It’s not really a regular spa. It’s definitely a very
traditional old-school vibe. [ Man vocalizing ] My name is Dasha, and I’m one of the owners
of the Russian-Turkish Baths. We’re between 1st Avenue
and Avenue A, which is just one of many
avenues and streets in New York. The chances of finding it
by walking by it are slim. The Russian-Turkish Baths
is a great place to come relax. This is Chris, my husband. We’re going to show you
through all the rooms. So this one is
the redwood sauna room, and it’s, like,
a really dry heat. -Right here we have
the aroma therapy room. We put eucalyptus in it,
and then you breathe it in, and it helps you
open up your lung. It’s strictly wet heat. So this right here,
this is a cold plunge pool. You get a platza,
you come in here, and it’s a cold plunge,
and you’re just… It feels amazing.
-Really cold. -I want to say,
like, 25 degrees. Yeah, freezing.
It’s freezing in there. Last, but not least,
radiant heat Russian room, hottest room in this place. -This is like the schvitz. -This is what we’re famous for. We’ve heard people
come across the globe just to come in this room,
hottest room in New York. You go in there, you’re going to
come out feeling really good. -So this is where the magic
happens, Leon’s magic. A lot of people don’t realize
we have a restaurant here until they see it, and it’s really well-known for,
like, our Russian borscht. Like, there are people
who will come and not steam. They’re steamers,
but just that day, they’re really
craving the borscht. -Borscht is a cold Slavic soup. It’s Russian, Ukrainian,
and cabbage, beets, carrots. We eat with sour cream. This borscht enough
just for one day. People like borscht here,
and they eat every day. Traditional Russian, of course,
beef stroganoff. Pilmeni, pancakes,
crepes, blini. Blini is crepes,
French crepes, thin pancakes. We have Olivier Russian salad, a traditional salad
with some meat. We make here vegan. ♪♪ -And then we also
have treatments. So we have mud,
salt, and soap treatment. The mud is Dead Sea salt mud. So it’s, like, imported,
and you feel the burn. [ Laughs ] The platza is
our most traditional treatment. I always tell people that it’s,
like, an experience. It’s with the oak leaves. It’s, like, a special therapist
who does it, and he sort of beats you
with the leaves, but it feels amazing. I do it all the time. -Platza number one, this is
best treatment in the world. If you have cancer, if you come here,
no more after this treatment because this treatment
give you circulation blood and kill everything negative
inside your body. Bathhouse like my home now
because I work here since 2000, and this family like my sisters
and brothers, you know. I love this place. ♪♪ -Well, platza, this is
my favorite treatment. It’s very nice,
and people relax. -Hardcore, gee, like, you know,
your body starts shaking after. But, of course, yeah, it’s more
mostly chill here, yeah. -Tested for quality, we not buy
too — too much food here because I buy every day fresh. -We also have fish cutlet
and chicken cutlet. We have, like, a juice bar,
as well. It’s really about, like,
health and enjoying yourself. -This I call Russian
breakfast — pancake served with salmon,
pancakes with caviar, pancake served with
ground chicken with mushroom, and herring
with marinated red onion, and beef sausage and eggs. We just serve traditional
Russian breakfast. Bon appetit.
[ Speaks Russian ] -New York is
an ever-changing city. In here, we have this
stuck-in-time place. This bathhouse has been here
since 1892. The bathhouse has been
pretty much the same for the past 20 years. It’s definitely a very
old-school traditional vibe. A lot of different celebrities
have come, music artists, political figures. -Right here,
you have Al Pacino. There’s news articles
about people who used to come. This is actually to Boris.
It’s LL Cool J. Yeah, John Belushi,
he was very famous here. Run-DMC used to come
around here. I heard John Gotti
used to come here. How true is it?
Not to sure. -So the gangsters would
come steam because that was, like, somewhere where
they couldn’t wear a wire because it’s, like,
wet in the steam room. The massage therapists were deaf so that they couldn’t
hear anything that the gangsters
were planning or saying, and there’s definitely a lot
of old New York history here. -We have Russian beer here,
Ukrainian. [ Speaks Russian ] If translated,
it’s like “goat bile.” [ Chuckles ] I’m from Saint Petersburg,
Russia. I live in New York for 3 years. Dreams come true. I never been to New York before,
but I felt New York. New York said, “Welcome, Leon,” and I do what I like,
and I’m happy. I love customers. Customers love my food. -Do you ever go downstairs?
Do you ever use the baths? -Who, me?
-Yeah, you, yeah. -No.
-No? Why not? -I don’t know.
I don’t like it. -Yeah?
-Yeah. -New York is, like, known for
being a super fast-paced place. This is definitely somewhere
where you can come and relax and get rid of the stress
of your week. Like, for people who come in off
the street, we have shorts. -Robes, towels, slippers right
over here, as well. Some people bring their own
Russian hat. It keeps you warm.
You dump water over it. So you put it on, and you sit
in the room like this. -You wet it, and it keeps
your head cool. -And you just relax,
no worries in the world. -I love this place because
people come for health. They detox their bodies,
their soul. -It’s mostly cleansing. Like, you clean your soul. You clean your body. We don’t have customers. We have more, like,
family members here. I was telling this young fellow
here, we don’t have customers. We have family members here.
Right? -Absolutely.
-Yeah. Tell them, tell them. -Yeah, we have
family members here. -Yeah, this is family,
yeah, $10. [ Chuckles ] -I’m Boris’ granddaughter. My grandpa is from Moscow. My grandpa came to New York
in the ’70s. So when he found this location,
he was like, “This is perfect. This is where it has to be,”
and his partner, David, and them together made it
what it is now. So this is the roof deck.
-During the summer, this patio deck is packed, people smoking, eating,
drinking beer, hanging out. -In the winter, too.
-It’s funny. We didn’t meet on, like,
no social media or anything. I used to work down the street.
It was, like, a true love story, and she would come
to the coffee shop and get the same drink
every day, and I realized that she
doesn’t want the same drink. You know what I mean?
-[ Laughs ] -So, you know,
I had to smile at her, give her my number, you know,
and now we’re here. -Six months pregnant.
-And that’s actually supposed to be the owners
right there, like, painted. -It’s a family business. So me and my brother run the
bathhouse here on Boris week. It’s, like, Boris and David
were working together, and then they just decided
to split it up, Boris days and David’s days. -This is dumplings,
beef dumplings. We serve dumplings in this. I don’t know what it’s called
in English. -Um… -Dasha, what’s called
in English? -A ceramic bowl?
-Anyway, what is it in Russian? -[ Speaks Russian ]
-[ Repeats Russian term ] -I don’t know. I will use translator,
and I show you. Clay pot for dumplings,
very tasty. -And sometimes we’ll be
hanging outside, and people will be like, “Oh, what is that?
What’s in there?” and I just tell them they have
to come inside and see. -But they don’t.
-Having a place to escape, you can some here
and sweat out all the toxins. Then you can eat. You can hang out with
your friends on the roof deck. That’s, like,
part of why people come here. It’s stuck in time.
They don’t want us to redo it. Like, sometimes I’ll say,
“Oh, maybe we’ll, you know, revamp this section,”
or whatever, and people are like,
“No, no, don’t touch anything. It has to stay the same.” -This place, you come to enjoy. After a platza, after this food,
after Russian room, you go home. You’re, like, happier. What we need in our life —
have health and happiness. ♪♪ ♪♪

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