Spa Castle, a five-story jjimjilbang, or Korean spa, in College Point is one of my favorite places in Queens. The Castle features several saunas of varying temperature, including my two favorites: the mud-walled Loess Soil room, which is a whopping 190 degrees and Iceland, whose frigid interior resembles an undefrosted walk-in freezer. There is of course spa food—grilled salmon, asparagus, fruit, even lasagna—to be had on the same floor as Sauna Valley. I never eat it. That’s because there is a decent Korean cafeteria of sorts on the top floor. And when in Rome, or College Point . . .
Over the weekend I hung out at the Castle with family for a boys spa day. “Let’s go to the Korean restaurant on the top floor,” I exclaimed when lunch time rolled around, and we are feeling woozy after some three hours of shvitzing. My brother and cousin, whom I both love dearly, wanted no part of it instead opting for the aforementioned asparagus, and yes, lasagna. That didn’t stop me from ordering from the Korean menu whose offerings include naeng myun, Korean, barbecue, and several types of bibimbap.
There was also a special bibimbap on offer, eel hot stone bibimbap ($17.99). I’ve never had baemjang-eo dolsot bibimbap as it’s called in Korean so naturally I ordered it. As the rest of the boys got their spa grub on I waited patiently for my bibimbap. When they called my number I was mighty impressed. The stone bowl sputtered and steamed like a culinary sauna of sorts. Back at the table I mixed in the hot sauce. The bowl was topped with a generous portion of eel and shot through with mushrooms, sprouts and other veggies. Best of all the bottom of the bowl was screaming hot, helping to form a nice a crust of crunchy rice. Along with an abbreviated banchan offering—seaweed soup, kimchi, cucumber, and shredded daikon it made for a perfect Korean spa lunch.
Spa Castle, 131-10 11th Ave, College Point, 718-939-6300