Lemon King (檸檬王) in Hong Kong

Whenever I visit Hong Kong, I will go out of my way to this little stall located at Hong Kong Island to buy my favourite preserved lemon and liquorice snack (甘草檸檬).

I first stumbled upon Lemon King (檸檬王) about 14 years ago when I was shopping for ladies’ accessories at Wing Kut Street (永吉街). To-date I haven’t found any other place in the world which can match this stall’s preserved lemon snacks!

Thai limes (also known as “green lemons” or kaffir limes) are marinated in salt for 90 days to remove the acid sourness, then sliced, seeds discarded, sugar and powdered liquorice root sprinkled on and they are sun-dried for a week. Note that white sugar is used instead of saccharin as a sweetener so that it is healthier and customers do not feel thirsty after eating the snack.

Included with each bag of preserved lemons is a little packet of extra liquorice powder which you can sprinkle over the lemons if you prefer a stronger liquorice taste. (Not me – I like it just the way it is!)

There is a version with mint (薄荷檸檬) – some people may find it refreshing but I don’t like the minty feeling and prefer the original flavour.

Apparently liquorice can help to stop coughs, eliminate phlegm, stop pain and reduce heatiness. I was down with a viral infection one week after my trip and had a bad cough with yellowish/greenish phlegm. I started eating the preserved lemons and I think it definitely helps with the cough and soothes the throat! It’s also good during times when you feel nauseous and don’t have much appetite.


My mum, my friends and colleagues love the candied lemon ginger (檸檬薑) which has the right degree of moistness and depending on the age of the ginger used, it can be spicy!


Other snacks like preserved plums (正宗話梅肉) are also sold at the stall.

       

If you are unsure of what to buy or whether any of the snacks would appeal to you, there are samples available at the stall so you can try and then decide which ones you prefer.


A little bit of history…
The Lemon King was started by former hawker Tong Kan-pui, now 85, who began selling from a wooden trolley (mobile pushcart) in Sheung Wan since the 1970s. He initially worked in a Chinese medicine shop, marinated lemons in sugar and liquorice and sold them to soothe sore throats. When customers began to visit his shop to buy bags of preserved lemons as snacks instead of medicine, he quit and opened his own stall specializing in preserved lemon snacks.

His son, Tong Sung-chiu took over in 2007 and was awarded a fixed-pitch hawker’s licence in 2008 so that he can continue the family business from a permanent home.

Lemon King’s success has resulted in many imitators who use their name on their products (you can see some of these “imitations” being sold at the shops along the nearby major roads from where the Lemon King is located). In order to ensure that you are buying the real Lemon King’s preserved lemon snacks, look for the picture of Tong Kan-pui on the slip of paper which comes with the paper bag.


I found Mr Tong to be a very friendly man who spoke mainly Cantonese and very little English. Unfortunately, I only know enough Cantonese to purchase the items but not enough to strike a decent conversation!  Anyway, I do hope this business will carry on for many more years as I will definitely be back for more during my next trip!

Address:
Wing Kut Street, Stall No. FP-20, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.
(it’s between Queen’s Road Central and Des Voeux Road Central – where Wing Lok Street meets Des Voeux Road Central and Bonham Strand meets Queen’s Road Central)
香港上環永吉街FP-20號排檔

Getting there: MTR Sheung Wan Exit B2, then walk for about 5min.

Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm (Monday to Saturday). Closed on Sunday and holidays.
Do note that during Chinese New Year, the stall may be closed for about a week or so – I found this out during one of my trips and went home empty-handed then.

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Categories: Eating in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “Lemon King (檸檬王) in Hong Kong

  1. Li

    Mr. Tong has finished selling all his lemon ginger when we visited him, his stocks won’t be available till Febrary next year and we are leaving on the 26th December.:(

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    • Oh no!! Thanks for the info! Hope you managed to buy some lemon peel?

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      • Li Ng

        No, not even the lemon peel. Only managed to get the ginger.

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      • So you bought the last packets of the lemon ginger? Did he say why there’s no stock until February next year? Customers will be very disappointed then if both lemon peel and ginger are unavailable!!
        I hope he can sustain the business for many more years to come!

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  2. carsam

    Just went there in April 27, 2015. There is a new Packing without the photo. Went there on a Sunday & was closed. A disappointment. Managed to google & got him on the phone. Now he limits one person 10 packets & cost HKD 45.00. We went there about 10.00 a.m.on Monday but it was not opened yet until 10 minutes later. There was already a queue so I asked him where the queue was & he pointed in front . Reason I asked was the queue was very disorderly until I asked him & automatically, like magic, the people queued in single file. I came prepared with 4 persons & bought 40 packets which a whooping HKD 1,800.00 for Lemon Peel !. Thought it was crazy but I came back & distributed the packets since I didnt buy any sovenirs in Hong Kong which was costly now & not worth buying. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Ohh…you didn’t like the lemon peel? My friends and I love it and I personally find that it helps to soothe my throat when I have a sore throat and helps to disperse thick phlegm. I do agree that his prices are higher than other shops and I find that his prices seem to increase with every year. With regards to the opening hours of the shop, I guess it’s because the old uncle runs the stall by himself, thus he can choose when he wants to open shop, but it is closed on Sundays.

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      • carsam

        Oh, Yes, Jaz, We liked it. After travelling 2,500km for the tidbits, must be worth buying.I can see a young man helping Uncle Tong. Could be his son for the next generation but it seems the licence is non transferable. Unless another celebrity takes up his plight, it would be the end of Lemon King. I read in another blog there is another old licencee who operates a stall in Wing Kut Street by his daughter.Her aging father must be at the stall to operate. Once he leaves the world, his licence goes with him. Maybe Hong Kong wants it street free from Street Vendor in this area as I see no problem in Mongkok.Hope someone can explain.

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  3. Sharon

    Great info Jaz, wish I would had known when I visited last Nov. bummer that don’t know when I will go there again.

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  4. I went and got the tangerine peel, the dried plums, and the lemon ginger. They were all very good!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. sk

    Update on Lemon King. My relative just returned & came back with a new packing of Lemon King. It seems Uncle Tong son shall be taking over. I suppose the licence shall be transferred to the son then as earlier, I mentioned the licence ends with the licensee. Well, I hope the lemon king shall be carried on for generations to come. One thing though, The cost has doubled since we last bought in 2015.

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    • Yes, I went last year and the packing had already changed. The price keeps increasing but the quality is still there. I agree with you – hopefully the business will continue, cos it’s still my favourite stall for preserved lemons and I can’t find the same quality elsewhere.

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  6. sk

    You can check the cover story in their website
    http://www.lemonking.com.hk/pages/our-story
    Here the packaging has evolved 5 times starting from 1970s.
    I might have seen the 1980’s packaging. In the 1970s, I was working with many Hongkies but I dont think they knew about this Lemon King.They have postal deliveries only in Hong Kong but not overseas. Perhaps you want to import this & sell it in Spore. Then I order from you.

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