I first indulged in traditional herbal turtle soup with my mates at MacPherson in the 1980s as our office was nearby in Paya Lebar. It became a life long love and my usual turtle soup haunt is at Berseh Food Centre. Meanwhile, while I heard a lot about the turtle soup at Ser Seng Herbal off Geylang Lor 21, it was only today that I finally got to try it. But, it was great and never too late!
Ser Seng Herbal was full house as usual this afternoon with customers spilling onto the fully occupied walkway outside.
Looking at the boss Ah Seng, I can't believe that he is 10 years my senior 😂 Must be the herbal turtle soup which Ah Seng still drinks every day 😋
Ah Seng's father started selling herbal turtle soup over seventy years ago with the large pot of soup and charcoal stove slung on a bamboo pole across his shoulders.
Ah Seng, then 12 years old, joined his father when they set up a turtle soup push cart stall at the Orchard Road carpark of Singapore food lore (where 313@Somerset stands today). They then moved to Bukit Timah 7-Mile, followed by Tai Thong Crescent before settling here at Lor Bachok, off Geylang Lor 21.
The Tan family now runs 3 herbal turtle soup shops in Singapore - here at Lor Bachok/ Geylang Lor 21, Tai Thong Crescent (by Ah Seng's brother) and in Bedok (by Ah Seng's sister).
Ah Seng's son, Allan is running the shop in Geylang with his dad and also brother-in-law. So, we are going to enjoy traditional turtle soup for another generation 😃
I had a clay pot of herbal turtle soup - price S$24 for small serving.
Ser Seng's herbal turtle soup has a good round body which is heavy from the dissolved collagen in the broth. The soup is well balanced between mild savoury and sweet with a gentle taste of Chinese herbs. Allan uses over 20 types of quality herbs to make this broth according to his grandfather's recipe. Kept warm in the clay pot, the soup is not greasy at all and I enjoyed drinking it to the last drop 😋
Tan Ser Seng's turtle has a texture between fish and pork - slightly stiffer than fish and softer than tender lean pork.
The turtle's natural flavour is also between fresh fish and lean pork - like the flavour of fresh sea bass meat.
The soft shell turtle has lots of collagen. It is slightly firmer than jelly with little flavour except for a subtle sweetness. I enjoyed this for it's springy jelly texture. Many people believe that collagen is good for smooth skin... but I don't know lah.... then looking at Ah Seng's youthful looks and energy.... how not to believe? 😂
I like the claw most as it has the best combination of collagen and meat for great texture and flavour.
Tan Ser Seng uses wild caught soft shell turtles imported live from Indonesia. The live turtles approved for export are processed in a HACCP-certified slaughterhouse in Singapore. It is brought to Ser Seng at dawn, where it is cooked in herbs and served at 11am.
4-Star (out of 5). Highly recommended. I like Tan Ser Seng's turtle soup because of it's nice texture and mild herbal taste from quality ingredients. It's easy to like this turtle soup even for first timers. (Besides turtle soup, Tan Ser Seng is also very popular for their Black Chicken Herbal Soup and Cordyceps Chicken Soup.)
Restaurant: Tan Ser Seng Herbs (Turtle)
Address: No. 29A Lorong Bachok (off Geylang Lor 21), Singapore 387791 (10 minutes walk from Aljunied MRT station)
GPS: 1°18'50.5"N 103°52'48.1"E | 1.314014, 103.880024
Tel: 6748 3953
Hours: 11:00am to 7:00pm (Thurs off)
Date visited: 6 Jan 2017
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