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Macpherson Tai Thong Crescent Turtle Soup by Ser Seng Herbs

✍️ 26 Apr 2024. We met at the Macpherson Tai Thong outlet of Ser Seng turtle soup. This is Ser Seng's original outlet, the other one is in Geylang. 

In my previous life, I had to go to Paya Lebar Airbase occasionally. At that time, our favourite lunch haunts include Kay Lee Roast Meat and Ser Seng Turtle Soup. I haven't been to Macpherson Ser Seng for over 30 years, though I go to their Geylang outlet once in a while. 

Tan Ser Seng Herbs (Turtle) started as a hawker stall by Tan Ah Sai in 1946. On arriving from China, Tan Ah Sai sold his herbal soup along Orchard Road and later in Upper Bukit Timah. In the 1980s, the stall expanded into this restaurant at Tai Thong Crescent (Macpherson). 
By 1988, Ser Seng was selling 100kg of fresh turtle meat a day. Tan Ah Sai’s turtle soup made with quality herbs and fresh ingredients was pulling in the crowds, including a younger me 🤫 

When I stepped into Ser Seng at Macpherson today, the first thing on my mind was "wow, this place hasn't changed in at least 30 years". 

We were grateful for the air con refuge from the sweltering heat outside.

The menu is still relatively simple and has been like this for decades. 

Each of us had a small serving of mixed turtle soup containing meat, paw, offal and gelatine. 

The jar doesn't look big but we were stuffed by the time we were done. 

The soup was full bodied, a bit of slick on top, and rich with a tasty blend of herbal, savoury and sweet flavours. My serving had a dash of (optional) brandy. 

Turtle liver was great. Lighter than pork and chicken liver, soft crunchy but not creamy like foie gras. 

I love the soft jelly texture of the gelatinous parts, though they don't have much flavour by themselves. 

Many people including me love the paws as it has the best combination of skin, fat, meat, tendon and gelatine. 

The texture of turtle lean meat done in soup is like pork lean meat in soup. Tender, slightly fibrous and chewy. 

Side of soft boiled eggs. 

Turtle egg is denser and stickier than chicken egg. Egginess was very slight. 

Break and stir the yellow yolk into the rice for texture and flavour. 

I ordered turtle fat on impulse but got more than I expected for $3. The globs of yellow hued fat looked intimidating. I finished them anyway 🤭

The turtle fat was spongy and juicy, and tasted sweetish with a subtle herbal taste infused from stewing in the soup. 

The simple blanched choy sum splashed with soy sauce and sprinkled with fried garlic. 

Choice of white rice or yam rice. 

I love eating at those old places I ate at before as it brings back so many memories. Unfortunately, many of these places are gone, or changed beyond recognition or by so much that I don't want to go back. 

Ser Seng Macpherson is one of the few places where the food, people, and place didn't change much from what I can remember of the place from three decades ago.

Yeah, even the roar of fighter jets from Paya Lebar Airbase is still there.


Restaurant name: Ser Seng Herbs (Turtle) Restaurant

Address: 39 Tai Thong Cres, Singapore 347863

Nearest MRT: 10 minutes walk from Potong Pasir station

Tel: 6287 6341

Hours: 11am - 8pm (Mon off)


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Written by Tony Boey on 26 Apr 2024


  1. My favourite! I actually prefer this to the Geylang outlet… the soup is more savoury than herbal here. The balance in taste is just nice for me 😋

  2. Honestly no where near Tan Ser Seng lah 😑

  3. The turtle egg color looks vibrant and is the right actual color of cooked egg.


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