Tuesday, October 4, 2022
HomeSpiritual TravelShenkeng Previous Road: A Meals Tour of Taipei’s Smelly Tofu Village

Shenkeng Previous Road: A Meals Tour of Taipei’s Smelly Tofu Village


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Shenkeng (深坑區) is a district of New Taipei Metropolis, adjoining to Nangang and Muzha districts of southeastern Taipei Metropolis. Shenkeng means “deep pit”, after the coal mines as soon as lively within the space.

At present, Shenkeng is virtually synonymous with tofu, and it’s thought of the tofu capital of Taiwan. It’s particularly well-known for smelly tofu, maybe essentially the most infamous of the numerous avenue meals in Taiwan, which is offered from quite a few stalls and eating places lining the extraordinarily standard Shenkeng Previous Road (深坑老街).

The Previous Road is lined with picturesque heritage buildings that have been preserved on the request of locals within the Nineteen Eighties, and lots of of which have been restored starting in 2013. Like the numerous different “Previous Streets” in Taiwan, it attracts hoards of tourists, particularly on weekend and vacation afternoons. Mix it with a hike or different issues to do in Shenkeng and neighboring Shiding, which I’ll cowl on the finish of the article, and also you’ll have one of the vital attention-grabbing day journeys from Taipei!

A painting of Shenkeng Old Street a long time ago
A portray of Shenkeng in previous instances (Artist credit score: 顏松濤)

Whereas smelly tofu is Shenkeng’s declare to fame, the stalls and outlets there promote a wide range of different tofu-based meals, equivalent to tofu ice cream and gelato, douhua (豆花 or dessert tofu) and fermented tofu (豆腐乳). There are additionally many different conventional meals and drinks on provide like o-gui (taro paste dumplings), black sugar cake, bitter plum drink, and extra.

Under I’m going to share a self-guided strolling meals tour of Shenkeng, introducing among the finest and hottest stalls and eating places in Shenkeng, primarily based on a number of visits.

Word that a number of stalls shut on Mondays, whereas a couple of take their time without work on Tuesday or Wednesday, so these aren’t the perfect days to come back. For extra consuming excursions in Taiwan, see my guides to Ximen eating places, Little Burma, and Yongkang Road.

Introduction to Smelly Tofu

A tray filled with slabs of stinky tofu with sticks sticking out of them shot in Shenkeng, Taiwan's stinky tofu village
Grilled smelly tofu

Smelly tofu actually lives as much as its title. It stinks. But when you may get previous the odor, it’s surprisingly scrumptious. In keeping with legend, a meals vendor in Beijing invented it by chance throughout the Qing Dynasty when a few of his stall’s tofu went dangerous. At present it might probably nonetheless be present in China, however it’s particularly standard in Taiwan.

Shenkeng has lengthy been a middle of tofu-making. The tofu made there has an particularly excessive ratio of soybeans to gypsum (the latter is added as a coagulant), giving the tofu a yellow colour and distinctive taste. Whereas it’s mostly used for making smelly tofu, there are a number of different tofu-based meals on provide on Shenkeng Previous Road.

There are three kinds of smelly tofu widespread all through Taiwan, however Shenkeng makes a speciality of #2 and #3 within the numbered record beneath.

A mosaic of the three different types of stinky tofu in Taiwan
The three sort of smelly tofu in Taiwan: deep fried (top-left), grilled (backside), and mala (top-right)
  1. Deep Fried Smelly Tofu (臭豆腐): consists of deep fried cubes of smelly tofu served with pickled cabbage. It’s the most typical in night time markets in Taipei and throughout Taiwan, however it’s not widespread in Shenkeng.
  2. Grilled Smelly Tofu (串燒臭豆腐): a slab of semi-firm tofu that’s pierced with two sticks for selecting up and consuming. It’s normally grilled, sliced down the center, and stuffed/topped with varied components. Quite a few meals stall distributors promote it on Shenkeng Previous Road.
  3. Mala Tofu (or “spicy/mouth-numbing”) (麻辣臭豆腐): Hunks of semi-firm tofu stewed in a spicy and flavorful brother, usually with duck’s blood, pig’s blood cake and different components. It’s particularly good in winter in Taiwan. It’s offered from many sit-down eating places on Shenkeng Previous Road.
Some shelves with rows of jars containing fermented tofu cubes for sale in Shenkeng Old Street
Fermented tofu, or “Taiwanese cheese” (not smelly tofu), used for making sauces, on the market in Shenkeng

Attending to Shenkeng

A sign showing the buses that go to Shenkeng from Mazha MRT, with a temple across the street
Buses to Shenkeng at Muzha MRT station. The MRT station is behind the temple within the above image.

Whereas there’s speak of extending the Taipei MRT to Shenkeng, it hasn’t occurred but, so the bus is the one strategy to get there. One choice is to take bus 912 from Taipei Metropolis Corridor MRT to Shenkeng. The opposite is to move to Muzha MRT station, stroll out to Muzha Highway and cross it. The bus cease is reverse the tall, multi-story temple. Take bus 660, 666, or 819 (bus 251 additionally goes to Shenkeng, however doesn’t get as near the previous avenue).

Shenkeng Previous Road runs west to east, parallel to the freeway, so you may get off at one in all two stops. Get off all buses at Shenkeng cease (深坑站) for the western finish (the place I’ll begin the meals tour beneath). It’s the cease AFTER Shenkeng Publish Workplace cease (深坑郵局). That is aside from bus 251 terminates close to the japanese finish of the Previous Road, however a few 5-minute stroll to the south, requiring you to cross Pingpu Bridge throughout the river.

It’s also possible to proceed to the following cease, Shenkeng District Workplace (深坑區公所) for the japanese finish of the Previous Road. It could make sense to begin your tour from Shenkeng Cease, and return to Taipei from Shenkeng District Workplace cease, to keep away from backtracking down the Previous Road, however then total avenue solely takes about 10 minutes to stroll one-way.

To mix your journey with an superior hike, Bus 666 continues previous Shenkeng and Shengkeng District Workplace stops to Huangdi Dian (皇帝殿山登山步道), one of the vital thrilling hikes in Higher Taipei (see remaining part of article).

Meals Tour of Shenkeng Previous Road

Alighting at Shenkeng bus cease (maked on map above, labeled “Shenkeng”), proceed alongside the highway within the path the bus was touring, previous the 7-Eleven, flip proper whenever you see a big tree rising in the course of the highway, then left at one other massive tree rising in the course of the highway. You possibly can’t miss it, as there are normally tons of of individuals filling the Previous Road.

From that time, listed below are my advisable stalls and eating places to observe for on Shenkeng Previous Road! I’ve taken the freedom of translating or transliterating the outlets that don’t have an English title. Many of the names are in Mandarin on the above GoogleMaps map.

A crowd of people on Shenkeng Old Street with a large tree on the right
A number of bushes on the street mark the doorway to the Previous Road

Beneath the Huge Tree Grilled Smelly Tofu (大樹下串燒臭豆腐) is a well-liked stall serving grilled smelly tofu. It’s beneath the primary tree within the highway, reverse the doorway to the Previous Road, so will probably be in your proper whenever you first flip in off the freeway, whereas the Previous Road might be to your left. There are a couple of different stalls beside it, together with a sugar cane juice stall and a peanut brittle cilantro ice cream wraps (花生冰淇淋卷) stall.

As you first enter the Previous Steet, two standard eating places on the proper occupy a photogenic heritage constructing: Three Tofu Eats Beneath the Tree (深坑大樹下豆腐三吃, No. 163, on the proper within the beneath picture) and Flavored tofu (味の豆腐, No. 161, on the left within the beneath picture). Each provide set meals that include many dishes, together with smelly tofu, in fact, so I solely suggest making an attempt these if you need a big meal with many dishes in a single spot.

Red brick exterior of two restaurants on Shenkeng Old Street
Beneath the Tree and Flavored Tofu eating places

Reverse these two eating places, on the left facet of the Previous Road, is one other extraordinarily standard (search for the lengthy line of locals) grilled smelly tofu stall referred to as Jindading Aromatic Tofu (金大鼎香豆腐). It claims to be the unique one on Shenkeng Previous Road. Topping choices embody pickled cabbage, cilantro, and peanut powder.

Subsequent, you’ll go a small temple referred to as Shenkeng Fude Temple (深坑福德宮) on the proper with some meals stalls round it.

Exterior of a red brick building housing a restaurant on the Old Street in Shenkeng
Guzaocuo Restaurant

A minute previous the temple, the favored Guzaocuo Shenkeng Tofu or “Historic Home Shenkeng Tofu” (深坑古早厝 臭豆腐, No. 140) on the left is a well-liked, sit-down restaurant with old-time film posters adorning the partitions. It’s housed in an exquisite heritage constructing (see picture above).

You’ll steaming baskets, big woks stuffed with mala smelly tofu, and entire chickens hanging on the entrance. Their mala smelly tofu could be very standard, however you’ll want at the very least two folks to complete one order, and it comes with blood truffles and dried fish. And heads up, once I took my first sip of the soup, together with among the spicy oil floating on the high, it hit me like a bomb…it was so spicy that I turned dizzy for a second, however then I acquired used to it and it wasn’t that spicy after. So possibly don’t do what I did…

A huge wok filled with blocks of tofu simmering in spicy soup
Blocks of tofu stewing in mala soup on the entrance of Guzaocuo
A little metal pot with several blocks of stinky tofu in it
My order of mala smelly tofu at Guzaocuo

Simply previous Guzaocuo and in addition on the left, A-Zhu’s Taro Ball Previous Retailer (深坑老店阿珠芋圓, No. 134) does conventional Jiufen-style taro (芋頭圓), candy potato (地瓜圓), mung bean (綠豆元), and pink bean balls (紅豆圓) served on crushed ice desserts with black sugar syrup.

You possibly can see the women making the balls proper on the entrance of the store. Moreover their traditional balls listed above, you get to decide on two different conventional QQ (chewy) toppings in your crushed ice, that are on show on the entrance.

A woman making taro balls with several types on display in Shenkeng
A-Zhu taro balls being made proper on the entrance of the shop

Proper after A-Zhu’s, additionally on the left, the awkwardly named Black Particular person Store (黑人ㄟ店) is without doubt one of the solely stalls in Shenkeng that serves the deep fried number of smelly tofu.

Subsequent up is Jishun Temple (集順廟), whose facet wall faces the road on the proper facet. The temple dates to 1838 and is devoted to Shuangzhong, the god of double loyalty. It’s value a fast look inside! (Study concerning the finest temples in Taipei right here!)

Various golds on an altar in the main room of Jishun Temple in Shenkeng
Take a peek inside Jishun Temple

Adjoining to the temple’s courtyard are two standard meals stalls. Balajiao Qilixiang (芭樂嬌七里香) serves grilled hen butts (you learn that proper). They’re double roasted to attain crispy pores and skin. The stall is tremendous standard amongst locals.

The opposite standard stall beside the temple is Temple Entrance Tofu Girl Boss Previous Store (廟口老店 豆腐娘餐廳, No, 112, pictured beneath), which does extra grilled smelly tofu.

A female food vendor in a red apron preparing several orders of stinky tofu in Shenkeng
Grilled smelly tofu vendor beside Jishun Temple

After the temple, there’s a string of standard sit-down eating places on the left. For conventional Hakka desserts like black sugar cake and mochi balls, look ahead to Little Cousin’s Hakka Meals (表妹客家美食, No. 106, on the left, pictured beneath, not on GoogleMaps).

A table filled with Hakka desserts for sale in Shenkeng
Black sugar cake and different Hakka desserts

Simply previous that, however on the proper, I like to recommend Tangshanbo Conventional Bitter Plum Drink (唐山伯古味酸梅湯, No. 109). A glass of their signature candy osmanthus bitter plum drink (scorching or iced) goes for NT30. The plums are smoked, so the drink is good, bitter, and smoky suddenly.  

A hand holding up a red cup with a plum drink in it, with the stall where it was bought from behind it
Smoked plum and candy osmanthus drink

Huge Fatty Tofu Ice Cream (大胖子豆腐冰淇淋, No. 62, left facet) sells conventional flavors of tofu ice cream like black tofu, sesame, taro, and plain. They go for NT35 a packet. Heads up for vegans, they do include a bit milk. Look ahead to the massive freezer on the entrance, in any other case the store is simple to overlook. There’s a single chair out on the road if you wish to sit.

Nonetheless, see two entries beneath for a store that sells completely different flavors and has a stunning sit-down inside.

A spread of packets of tofu ice cream with different flavors
Completely different flavors of tofu ice cream at Huge Fatty

Simply previous it on the proper facet, a brilliant slim hole-in-the-wall store referred to as Shenkeng Taro Balls (深坑芋ㄚ包芋ㄚ, No. 77) sells conventional Taiwanese meals favored o-gui (taro paste dumplings).

A hand holding up a packet of lavender flavored tofu gelato with a heart design on the wall behind it
Lavender tofu gelato

Oli Cafe and Dofu Gelato (歐里人文咖啡) serves tofu “gelato” that’s (in my opion) the perfect in Shenkeng. They arrive in little packets similar to at Huge Fatty Tofu Ice Cream, however the flavors listed below are extra various, together with caramel, lavender (made with actual lavender flowers by the proprietor), and strawberry. In addition they include a bit milk, and olive oil!

The proprietor could be very pleasant, the sit-down inside incorporates lovely work and even a comic book ebook themed on Shenkeng’s tofu historical past, and it’s housed in an exquisite heritage constructing.

An ice cream sign and two soft serve tofu ice cream machines
Delicate serve tofu ice cream stall in direction of the top of the Previous Road

Mr. Soybean Delicate Tofu Ice Cream (老街頭炭燒豆腐霜淇淋, No. 51, proper facet) does tremendous tall delicate serve ice cream, with rotating flavors which have included tofu, chocolate, matcha, strawberry, or mixture. These are tall, for certain, however in my view they will’t evaluate to the scrumptious soy milk delicate serve ice cream at Soypresso on Yongkang Road in Taipei, which is completely vegan, by the best way.

Two logs of stinky tofu topped with greens and peanut powder on a green plate
Grilled smelly tofu with Hakka greens and peanut powder

Almost on the finish of the road, on the proper facet, Ding Road Tuquecuo Grilled Smelly Tofu (頂街土埆厝串燒臭豆腐, No. 41) is my high advisable grilled tofu spot on Shenkeng Previous Road. They’ve distinctive topping choices like Hakka pickled greens, century egg, cucumber, or pickled cabbage.

There are chairs and tables inside, with previous black-and-white photographs of Shenkeng overlaying the partitions. And in contrast to the favored grilled smelly tofu stalls on the western finish of the road, there’s seldom an extended line at this one.

A food vendor menu sign that shows stinky tofu with 100-year egg and a price of 55NT on it
Smelly tofu with century egg (pidan) – two smelly meals in a single!

On the finish of the Previous Road, look ahead to the gorgeous heritage constructing on the nook on the left facet, referred to as 淡蘭古道深坑街. It homes a store referred to as 木財 promoting carved wooden gadgets, and a well-liked douhua (dessert tofu) store referred to as Huge Valley Douhua (大谷豆花).

Looking up at the facade of an old building on Shenkeng Old Street
Heritage constructing on the finish of Shenkeng Previous Road

In the event you flip proper on the finish of the road, there’s a good playground for guests with youngsters on the other facet referred to as Shenkeng Youngsters’s Playground (深坑兒童遊戲公園), whereas additional down will carry you to a bridge throughout the river with some scenic meals wanting up and down the river valley.

Going left on the finish of the Previous Road will take you as much as the primary highway (Beishen Highway), which you’ll cross and go left to search out the bus cease for busses again to Muzha MRT in Taipei Metropolis.

Different Issues to Do Round Shenkeng

The exterior of a traditional, red brick Chinese courtyard home in Shenkeng
A historic home only a few minutes away from the Previous Road

In the event you’re concerned with historic structure, 三級古蹟深坑黃氏永安居, a grade 3 historic web site, is a heritage sanheyuan (3-sided conventional courtyard house) throughout the highway from the fuel station and enormous car parking zone 150 m west of the western entrance of Shenkeng Previous Road.

It’s also possible to take bus 666 to Shiding Previous Road (石碇老街), which is a small, quieter Previous Road within the mountains. It could be heading in the identical path as whenever you arrived in Shenkeng, that’s, on the identical facet of the primary highway because the Previous Road.

Shiding Huangdi Dian Hike, one of the best hikes that can be done as a day trip from Taipei
Huangdidian Hike in Shiding district

The identical bus continues on to Huangdidian mountaineering path (皇帝殿山登山步道) , an extended vertical climb that reaches a enjoyable and dramatic collection of ridges on the mountaintop.

Shiding Hsu Family hand-pulled noodles
Hand-pulled noodles at Shiding Hsu Household

In the event you’ve acquired your personal wheels, I like to recommend a go to to Shiding Hsu Household Hand Pulled Noodles (石碇許家手工麵線), a small family-run noodle making facility the place noodles are frolicked on massive racks to dry within the solar. It’s a 20-25 minute drive from Shenkeng Previous Road.

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