For some, turtle soup may be a tonic – a quick recipe to improving and strengthening one’s constitution. For others, it is simply a delicious delicacy, a rare treat. Turtle soup stalls may no longer be as widespread today as they once were, but places that serve a great turtle soup still exist.
Tan Ser Seng Herbs (Turtle) Restaurant is one such eatery. An old fashioned corner ‘kopitiam’ that looks like it hasn’t changed for decades, this non air-conditioned restaurant serves just one specialty: herbal turtle soup. Dining parties looking for variety will find their choices very limited, as the only other dish served is herbal chicken soup with ordinary or black chicken.
The turtle soup is served either with white rice or yam rice, the latter being especially well done and garnished with fried shallots. I patronise Tan Ser Seng Herbs (Turtle) Restaurant once a month, and the yam rice is always consistent, as is its turtle soup.
Here, succulent turtle comes served in a thick, potent herbal soup base with generous chunks of turtle flesh, liver, cartilage, and shell, and these chunks are never less than perfectly done. Herbal turtle soup is typically cooked with soft shell turtle; the gelatinous slivers you find in the soup are the edges of the soft shell. I find that Tan Ser Seng Herbs (Turtle) Restaurant’s soup is especially potent compared to other turtle soup joints, and you have the option of adding as much extra chinese wine and pepper as you like!
As herbal turtle soup can be quite ‘heaty’, it is best to have it with a glass of homemade chrysanthemum tea. The eatery can get quite busy at lunch, but I’ve never had a problem getting a table. A public car park is also situated directly opposite the outlet.
$19 nets you a solo portion of turtle soup, while a $39 claypot is good for two. With additional costs of rice and drinks, a lunch of turtle soup at Tan Ser Seng Herbs (Turtle) Restaurant can come up to $45 for two, which is pretty pricey. Approximately half a turtle is estimated to be in the two-person portion.
The eatery closes at night, so be sure to hit it up for lunch.
Tan Ser Seng Herbs (Turtle) Restaurant
29 Lorong Bachok (enter by Geylang Lor 21)