Shenkeng Old Street深坑|Explore Taiwan’s Stinky Tofu Paradise!

Shenkeng Old Street(深坑老街)happens to be the old street I frequented the most as a child. It’s short, sweet and irresistibly charming, and in my opinion, it’s tops as far as old streets go in the Taipei area. I’ve fallen in love with Shenkeng all over again during the last several years and have also become acquainted with two incredible new coffee shops that I’d like to recommend. This article will introduce the souvenir shops, eateries, and attractions that my family and I make sure to hit every time we take a trip to Shenkeng.

This article is translated by Tom Eldridge.

In former times, Shenkeng was an important stop along the trade route that ran from east to west in northern Taiwan, where merchants and traders stopped to rest during their long journey across the island similar to our modern highway rest stops. Due to its central location between Tamsui Kavalan Ancient Trail淡蘭古道 (connecting Yilan宜蘭 and Taipei台北) and Dadaocheng Wharf大稻埕碼頭(a pivotal commercial port), any merchants hoping to sell or export products were sure to pass through Shenkeng (This may also explain the emergence and prosperity of Sanxia三峽, Shiding石碇 and Daxi Old Streets大溪老街). Shenkeng means “deep pit”, named due to the surrounding mountains giving it the appearance of a hole in the terrain.

Due to the purity of water found here, Shenkeng’s famous tofu is tender and tantalizing. Known as the tofu capital of Taiwan and home of stinky tofu, any visitors here have a responsibility to give this famous dish a try. If you don’t dare to try stinky tofu there are probably other places you can visit haha.

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Transportation to Shenkeng
Train: No station
Bus: From Muzha, Gongguan or Jingmei MRT Stations take bus 660. From Qizhang MRT station take bus 819. From Taipei City Hall MRT Station take bus 912.
Drive: National Freeway 3, Shenkeng Highway Interchange
My family always drives to Shenkeng; after getting off the highway it’s only about another 2 mins or so until arrival. It’s quick and easy to get here; the only potential issue is parking. When coming here for the first time, most visitors park at the automated parking facility by the big tree that stands in front of the Old Street entrance. Since this lot can be a nightmare, we always park on the other side of the river that will be on your right hand side after you cross the bridge that costs 50 NTD (possibly 100 on weekends).

If you’re really having a hard time finding parking you can also check out the parking lot just past Fuxiangyuan福香園. (The red mark in the left.)

Shenkeng Walking Route, Attractions
The Old Street in Shenkeng is much smaller than Yingge’s and should take no longer than 3 hours even for the most devoted tofu lovers. If you’re passing through the area I would also recommend taking a look at the nearby Thousand Island Lake, and those with kids may do well to consider Taipei Zoo and/or Maokong Gondola, all of which can be arranged into a single day.

Recommended route: Huang Residence-Big tree-Guzaocuo Shenkeng Tofu-Shenkeng Old Street-Souvenir shopping-Riverside walk-Arc Cafe (Or replace Guzaocuo Tofu with Miss Yuan Yang cafe)

In a way Shenkeng is reminiscent of Wulai, and the underfoot Jingmei River is crystal clear.

After you cross the bridge, you will see New Taipei City Shenkeng District Office where you can take advantage of free (and sparkling clean!) public restrooms.

Next, the big tree that marks the entrance to the Old Street will come into view. I didn’t take any pictures of  Huang’s Residence Historical House黃氏永安居古厝 this time, but for those interested it’s located on your left hand side, within a 2 min walk. It’s one of Taiwan’s most prominent “three-section compound” historical structures and is quite worth a visit. Constructed in 1915, this Historical House is the only one of Mr. Huang’s seven properties that has been classified as a historical heritage site and is open to the public.

|BBQ Stinky Tofu炭烤臭豆腐
地址:First business on the left after big tree at Shenkeng Old Street entrance
定價:40-75 NTD

There certainly isn’t a shortage of BBQ stinky tofu here. My personal favorite is this vendor (picture below) which is located to the left of the 三拾堂食府 restaurant. Normally even on weekdays you’ll have to wait in line here, however due to coronavirus there aren’t as many people out and about so we were lucky enough to step right up and order.

I always order the Number 1 or Number 3; they have two kimchi varieties: spicy and non-spicy. The spicy one isn’t crazy spicy, at least it won’t knock your socks off. It’s delicious!

I love the manhole covers in Shenkeng!! They are all unique and each one depicts an interesting local characteristic. This kind of detailed manhole cover design can also be found at Taipei’s other old streets.

Next I’ll be introducing what kind of souvenirs to buy at Shenkeng Old Street!

|A Ju Taro Balls阿珠芋圓
Hours: 8:00~21:30

I haven’t actually eaten the taro balls on location because we always buy them and cook them ourselves at home. The taro balls are made by hand and are irresistibly chewy and yummy. This shop also sells other desserts including shaved ice.

For 100 NTD you can buy a big bag of taro balls and can even mix and match flavors: Red bean, Green bean, Taro, and Sweet potato.

|Tea Shop勝川茶行
Hours: 9:00~21:00
Price: 3 bottles for 100 NTD

Every old street in Taiwan is sure to sell cold-brewed tea!! This is our go-to shop, each bottle is loaded with tea leaves and the storefront is really cute. This time I found the tea to be a tad tart, but I still love it haha.

The largest temple (and landmark in general) on the old street is Jishun temple. There are toilets available here.

Compared to Taiwan’s other old streets, for example Sanxia’s, Shenkeng Old Street doesn’t actually appear to be so “old”- besides first floor storefronts a lot of the street has been renovated.

This next shop is really something!! I was a loyal customer at their Sanxia branch during my college days and have to say their fermented bean curd is second to none (besides my grandma’s… grandma’s bean curd is always best). I couldn’t recommend it enough! I’ve seen a couple who live in the US come here specifically to buy and take back some bean curd. That’s all you need to know!

|Mama Hsu’s Fermented Bean Curd三角湧 徐媽媽 醬菜茶
Hours: 10:00~19:00
Recommended flavors: Original, Sichuan

Don’t get it twisted- you come here for the fermented bean curd. Every time my family comes here we buy 2 to 3 jars of it. They offer free samples and will be happy to introduce their products to you. Besides fermented bean curd, they also sell products such as dried radish and hot sauce.

If all this shopping makes you hungry for lunch, there are plenty of dining options all along this strip, all of which have been tried by my family and I at one time or another. Below I will introduce our favorite restaurant!

|Guzaocuo Shenkeng Tofu古早厝豆腐人文美食餐廳
Hours: 10:00~8:00
Average cost: 250 NTD per person

Guzaocuo means old house in taiwanese.

The old-fashioned interior design here evokes a feeling of timelessness. The food is on point and the atmosphere is unique. Pets are welcome!

The menu includes pictures so don’t worry if you can’t read Chinese. If you can read Chinese take a look below- the prices are fair enough, especially compared to what you might find at certain old streets (looking at you Wulai). The “Golden Chicken白斬黃金閹雞” is a must eat!! 10/10 for sure! If you’re not hungry, buy some and tuck in at home later! It will be the best choice you made all day. Besides reading this article of course.

Not only are the veggies and chicken tasty, the rice here has a really nice texture and the portion size is enormous.

The duck blood stinky tofu鴨血臭豆腐 isn’t too spicy and contains white radishes. The portion size is generous enough to split amongst three friends.

Look at this chicken! This is just the small size! Are you kidding me?? We had to wave our white flags and box it up for future enjoyment.

The Hakka eggplants客家茄子 are quite palatable and are another great choice.

Finally, I’d like to bring your attention to two very special cafes. We didn’t go in to take pictures this time, but there’s always next time..

Miss Yuan Yang覓食鴛鴦 is located on the main road.

The other, 玻璃屋咖啡館Arc Cafe

Alrighty then~ hope you will enjoy Shenkeng as much as we always do! Come on the weekend to experience it all or on a weekday to avoid crowds (but be warned not every shop will be open). Happy Trails!

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