Although it’s a product of Chinatown, So Relax is cheek by jowl with venerable Little Italy eateries specializing in scungilli, a tough mollusk whose flesh is tenderized by beating. It’s worth noting, because So Relax itself specializes in brutal chair massages that treat subjects like so much scungilli. For its mainly walk-in clientele, massages—the only service performed—are of the rough-and-tough Chinese school. As masseurs lean into you with all their weight, their fingers, fists, and knuckles pummel and pound muscles into relaxation, or at least submission. The ambiance is equally unsubtle: a homely un-air-conditioned storefront with a few mismatched massage chairs, some towel-topped seats, and a lone massage table behind the refrigerator. Plastic sandals for sale spill out of storage cabinets; Oriental tchotchkes are sold from a table out front. If you’re wondering about the loud conversations in Cantonese conducted mid-massage, you’ll be too relaxed to care once your modestly priced treatment is complete.
Indoor surfing, spinning lovefests, a luxurious pig-placenta facial, and more.