Old Town Shenkeng is famous for it's stinky tofu. As soon as you arrive the pungent smell invades your nostrils like a men's locker room. There's so much to see though, and it's a charming quaint street lined with all kinds of shops for eats and goodies...mostly different kinds of eats, with each shop offering you all sorts of samples, so it's almost like having lunch at Costco, but better.
I think after a while I got used to the smell of the stinky tofu, so after a while it still smelled, but it didn't bother me so much and I even tried one off a small cart. It was delicious. Truly. The one I tried was made in some kind of brown chili sauce, and then they let you choose two different vegetable sides to add on top. I asked why stinky tofu is stinky, and the woman who owned the cart told us that it's because of the brine made to cook stinky tofu in. The brine is usually made with vegetables, fermented milk, meats, and Chinese herbs. Then the brine is fermented, which can sometimes take several months. The tofu I tried was fried, but apparently they can also be steamed, stewed, and even eaten cold.
Walking down this little stone pathway really takes you back to an old world charm. There were people selling everything from fried cuttlefish to jams, peanuts and Chinese sweet treats to dried fruit, socks to tofu paste, knick knacks to herbal medicines--it was a delightful stroll, even with a light drizzle. There is even a small and beautiful Buddhist temple, which lies next to the spot of the original tofu stand.
Before leaving, my family and I stopped to eat lunch in one of the tofu restaurants and had all different kinds of tofu dishes, as well as others. This is the type of place you should visit in Taiwan. There aren't many tourists, and you really get a feel for some history and certain aspect of local life. It's also right on the river, so there are some gorgeous views of photos. Be careful of the cars and mopeds zooming down the street though. Unfortunately, the street is not a pedestrian only street, and Taiwan has no such concept as "pedestrian right of way."
Shenkeng is a rural district in New Taipei City, so it's not far from Taipei proper. It does not require a full day so I'd suggest heading out there for lunch and spending an hour or two there trying tofu and other goodies.
BIG LOVE & HUGS