While not an overtly tourist attraction, Gongguan Shopping Area (公館商圈) is more of a cultural experience along the lines of a study in youth culture. Straddling the southwest side of National Taiwan University, this shopping area stretches many blocks on both sides of Roosevelt Rd. What is immediately apparent here is that most of the people packing the street are students of NTU or other nearby schools. As such, it's something of a mystery of which came first: the students who just need a place to relax after class, or the shops and vendors that serve them? But similar to night markets around the country, Gongguan grows and adapts to the times, such that a night excursion here is sure to uncover the latest trends of the current youth generation.
If you are in the market for a new pair of shoes, Gongguan may just be your best bet in Taipei. Numerous shoe stores competing for customers line the streets southwest of the MRT station, offering all the latest styles from name brand companies. Small street-side vendors sell a range of other fashionable items such as clothing accessories, cosmetics, and even stylish umbrellas. Not straying far from its target audience, a handful of bookstores also make an appearance, and typical of the bookish Taiwanese, are always packed.
But perhaps the real enticement of a visit here is the variety of food choices. In the evening, food vendors roll onto the street, making a makeshift night market, replete with sandwich, egg pancake, and fresh food stalls. Drink shops and bun makers are often the most crowded with customers. The gems, however, are to be found along the quiet alleys. One such rare find is a Xinjiang restaurant, serving delicious full-bodied stews from that northwest region of China. Crossing over Roosevelt Rd. and making your way through the alleys behind Eslite Bookstore will lead you to a wide assortment of foreign restaurants, diners, and delectable cafes. Here, the irony of enjoying a quiet evening with delicious foods in the midst of the excitement of Gongguan is an experience to savor.