If you’re looking to re-create that special Moscow experience (and by that I mean drinking vodka in the sweltering heat just after getting a beatdown from a large, hairy Russian man), try Sandoony USA, a Russian bathhouse underneath the F train in Midwood. After handing over your valuables to a large man at the front desk, proceed to the changing rooms and slip into your suit (avoid the basket of flip-flops and bring your own). If you want to do it like Putin, buy a felt hat and some oak leaves at the counter; the latter you’ll use in the sauna to beat the living daylights out of your closest friends. Occasionally, a nice burly Russian will offer to do it for you. Once you’re so hot you can barely breathe, jump into the cold plunge and try not to scream (also try not to scream in fright at the sight of large, hairy men in Speedos). Retreat to the plastic tables in the common space and order yourself some fried calamari and a beer. Or a bottle of vodka. If you’ve never eaten fried calamari while sitting in your bathing suit in a humid room with hundreds of Russians, it’s something not to miss. The tea with jam is good, too. In addition to the saunas (wet and dry), there’s a steam room, jacuzzi, and cold plunge. Brush up on your Russian before you go. Na zdorovje!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 25, 2008