HEALTH/DINING: AQUA THAI SPA/EMPORIUM THAI

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AQUA THAI SPA/EMPORIUM THAI

The last time I had dinner at delicious Emporium Thai restaurant in Westwood, I noticed that there was a Thai spa right next-door. And it’s owned by the same pleasant family as Emporium is!

Mango Sticky Rice. (I love that the rice is sort-of in the shape of a heart.  Or a matzoh ball!!!)  Photo by Karen Salkin.

Mango with Sticky Rice. (I love that the rice is sort-of in the shape of a heart. Or a matzoh ball!!!) Photo by Karen Salkin.

Then, a week after my recent garage sale, and at the end of a particularly stressful few days, I knew I needed a massage. And since I was craving Emporium’s mango with sticky rice, anyway, I decided to try out their Thai massage first.

What an incredible double-treat this turned-out to be! (And now you can do a version of it, too, which I’m proud to say I helped come up with, actually! It’s an excellent deal for busy, stressed, and hungry Westsiders. And for all visitors to the area, as well. Details will be at the end of this article.)

My massage at Aqua Thai Spa was so incredible that I have to share the experience with you. First of all, when I arrived, I got to choose from a whole menu of types of massages, which are all very affordable. But what had been recommended to me, and what really caught my eye, anyway, was the Thai-Swedish combo.

The full-size massage table.  Photo by Karen Salkin.

The full-size massage table.
Photo by Karen Salkin.

For all of the services, you lie on a really big table, not one of those little skinny jobbies. I found-out as we went along why that is. It’s because the masseuses often get right on the table to work on your back more strenuously, which I sorely needed. (Get it? Sorely?) In some of the massages, they may even walk on your back! (But tell them if that’s not for you. I would have welcomed that bit of creativity, if not for the trio of fractures in my back.)

My masseuse’s name is Didi, and even though she is a little tiny female, she is one of the strongest people I’ve ever met! Wow. But her pressure was perfect; just the right amount. Not too strong, not too light. And she often checked-in with me to make sure that the pressure was just right for me.

The relaxing begins in this pretty hallway.  Photo by Karen Salkin.

The relaxing begins in this pretty hallway. Photo by Karen Salkin.

In my Thai-Swedish massage, I can’t even really tell you which is which because they blended so beautifully. I know that the stretches are part of a Thai massage, but these weren’t ones that made me work hard, as I’ve done in previous Asian massages. And even though Didi doesn’t speak a lot of English, (but she does know the word “tight,” which she exclaimed the second she touched my shoulders!,) she totally understood me when I told her which parts of my poor aching bod needed the most work, and which parts, like two scars I have, are too sensitive to be touched. It all went just perfectly. And, I felt sooo much better, in general, for the next several days!

I was thrilled to discover that Aqua Thai Spa’s “sixty minutes” is, indeed, sixty minutes! It’s not the fifty or fifty-five that they give you at other massage places! Believe me, those five to ten minutes really make a difference! (And I think that Didi even went a little over for me, because she could tell I needed the extra work. Trust me—that’s never happened anyplace else in my life!)

The reception area, which is just peaceful, and not a retail space!  Photo by Karen Salkin.

The reception area, which is just peaceful, and not a retail space! Photo by Karen Salkin.

Another aspect of Aqua Thai Spa that I appreciated is that they aren’t trying to sell you anything. There are no creams or potions in the waiting area, as there are in other spas. I hate it when those places try to make you purchase items on your way out of their establishment. I’m not there to shop for overpriced products–I’m there to relax and improve my health, not their pocketbooks!

Speaking of pocketbooks, I think you’ll be very pleased with Aqua’s reasonable prices.  I never give you actual figures in this e-zine, because they can always change over time, but if you go to Aqua Thai Spa’s website, (the link to which I give you below,) I’m sure that you’ll be very impressed with the affordability of the whole experience.

The beautiful new menu cover, featuring Emporium's signature saying. Photo by Karen Salkin.

The beautiful new menu cover, featuring Emporium’s signature saying. Photo by Karen Salkin.

I was in such a good mood when I left that I decided to stop next door and pick-up a healthful lunch for Mr. X, which I did. (He loved his Grilled Salmon with Chili and Coconut Sauce, by the way. And he’s not even a fan of Thai food, in general!) But when I got into Emporium, I was so relaxed, and heard the lovely peaceful music they had on in there, that I decided to sit down and have a couple of dishes for myself first.

I love their beautiful new red menu covers, which they got to commemorate their eighteenth anniversary. (I think owner John Sungkamee and company will be celebrating all year!) I have no idea what that material is, but I could not stop feeling mine; it felt even better than it looked! I just hope that I didn’t get any oil from my massage all over it, but Didi really took care of getting me de-greased before I left, so I think I was good.

I enjoyed a quick meal of their delicious healthful Royal Veggie Thai Fried Rice made with brown rice, (which is only lightly fried with olive oil, and features less rice and double vegetables,) followed by my favorite dish there—Mango with Sticky Rice! OMG! I love that dessert! And guess what? I was full for the rest of the day and night. And relaxed, as well, because of the massage, which is the reason I was there in the first place!!!

Emporium, looking out towards Westwood Blvd.  Photo by Karen Salkin.

Emporium, looking out towards Westwood Blvd. Photo by Karen Salkin.

Which brings me back to, as promised, the deets of their new fabulous deal, so you guys can experience what I just did. It’s called the Executive Express Massage (EEM) (which I helped name, because John told me his new concept while I was eating that lunch, so maybe I even inspired that whole idea!,) and includes a half hour massage at Aqua Thai Spa followed by a two-course prix fixe lunch at Emporium Thai right next door. You pre-order the lunch, so it will be ready for you, with no waiting! And the price of the whole shebang includes tax and gratuity! Gratuity, for the lunch portion. (But please don’t forget to tip your masseuse—the included tip is for the restaurant server only.) You’ll need a reservation for this deal, so that they’ll be all ready for you, and you won’t have to wait even one second! How fun is that?!

Emporium Thai is also participating in Dinela next month, so look for that on their website, too.

Now please excuse me while I plan my next Aqua Thai Spa massage with Didi!

Aqua Thai Spa  1279 Westwood Blvd.  310-478-6680  www.aquathaispa.com
Emporium Thai  1275 Westwood Blvd.  310-478-2838  www.ethaicuisine.com

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