I have long been a fan of Olympus Spa, a women-only Korean spa with branches in Lynnwood and Tacoma, where I have indulged in rigorous body scrubs and soothing moisturizing treatments, not to mention long soaks in its many hot pools.
Spa visits are routine in Korean culture, for both men and women, and a great way to cleanse, socialize and snack. The snacking, no surprise, is my favorite part, which is why I was thrilled to learn that another Korean spa just opened in Lynwood, called Bella Luna Spa and Sauna.
Formerly a coed spa, Bella Luna is under new management and now for women only. It is sprawling, airy and newly renovated, with multiple pools and sauna rooms that offer healing for both mind and body, including the Jade Room (designed to aid blood circulation), the Charcoal Room (absorbs toxins) and the Snow Room (promotes deep muscle relaxation).
Naturally, I couldn’t wait to try out the restaurant, whose owner, Young M. Chung, is an accomplished home cook and new to professional cooking. Thanks to her I was eating authentic Korean spa fare, nothing like what you’ll find in a restaurant.
Brown eggs! [Learn why after the jump.]
Take for example, the baked eggs (above), hwangto jjin gaeran (황토 찐 겨란), which are placed in the Yellow Clay Room for 48 hours to cook. The whites turn brown and the finished product has a vaguely smoky flavor and a far less rubbery texture than your average hardboiled egg. In Korea it’s a traditional spa snack. So too is the refreshing shik-eh (식혜), a house-made, sweet rice punch that Chung keeps stocked in the self-serve fridge.
Raw fish-free sushi
Rest assured you can order your favorite Korean dishes such as barbecued beef bulgogi or the rice mixture bibimbap, and there’s Korean sushi, made with carrots, spinach, egg, ham, pickled vegetables and cooked fish cakes — no raw fish.
But why not opt instead for real Korean comfort food, such as dukbokki (떡볶이), made of chewy tubular rice cakes paired with thin, rectangular fish cakes in a knock-your-socks-off spicy sauce?
Or the traditional, yet hard-to-find, naengmyeon (냉면), a cold soup made with buckwheat noodles that Chung promises with be on the menu once warmer weather sets in. I, for one, can’t wait to give it a try.
Photos by Tracy Schneider.
Read about the delicious Spa Food options at Kirkland’s Heathman Hotel and Seattle's Banya 5 on the Choice Morsel page.