A short bus ride from the Taipei Zoo Station lies Shenkeng Old Street – an old street famous for its stinky tofu (a local delicacy that you either love or hate — it’s the latter for me). I’ve always wanted to visit this place but its location makes it pretty inaccessible – it’s not within walking distance from the nearest train station (unlike Shilin Night Market, or even Danshui Old Street) so you’ve got to take a bus. However, since I happened to be on an adventurous mode and near the Taipei Zoo Station, I decided to give it a shot.
I was originally skeptical about the place because an online site described the old street as a short one. However, this is what I really like about it. Nestled in an old district with car repair shops nearby, this street is a gem. Once a bustling port between the tea plantations in the Wenshan and New Taipei City areas and Yilan, this place slowly saw less footfall when trains to Yilan took over.
The red brick shophouses that line the old street exude a retro vibe but are very well maintained. From local delicacies to old-school toys, this old street is filled with shops with a blast to the past. My friend and I had fun reminiscing our childhood snacks and toys in these shops.
While there were many eateries along the old street, I was more inclined to eating street food and the glutinous rice (油飯) caught my eye. The NTD40 (~SGD$2) bowl of rice came piping hot with a drizzle of sweet sauce all over it. It was delicious – the rice was soft and you could taste every grain of it (it wasn’t like conventional sticky rice!). There were sufficient ingredients – dried shrimp and meat included! I would go back for another bowl of this glutinous rice because it was savoury, light in taste and yet filling.
On a weekday afternoon, there was a small crowd as a local tourists (namely the elderly) were bussed to the old street for an afternoon. It was encouraging to see this place bustling with many elderly enjoying a nice afternoon walk and shopping spree. Though the crowd is nothing like the past, due to the fall in tourism during this period, I’m glad to still have had a chance to experience this old street. May Shenkeng Old Street continue to retain its charm.