Where You Live: Owner of Kaimuki's Crack Seed Store

By Pamela Young
Published On: Dec 24 2013 09:51:55 AM HST
Updated On: Nov 05 2013 01:25:55 PM HST

In a special Where You Live, we feature a person instead of a place -- Mr. Young at his crack seed store in Kaimuki.

HONOLULU -

Kaimuki has always been a neighborhood in transition.

Liliuokalani Elementary is now closed and fenced in.  Down the street where there's an office building, that used to be Kaimuki Theatre.

At the Kids Corner, that was McInerny -- how's that for a name out of the past?  And the Toys 'N Joys store -- that was Kress.

As Kaimuki's population changed, so did the store fronts.  But, one tradition is going strong after more than 70 years at the Crack Seed Store.

Click here to watch Pamela Young's story.

No big ticket items here.  The merchandise moves in small plastic bags.  Alice Wong opened the store in the 1940s.  For the past 35 years, Kon Ping Young manned the helm.  He says the neighborhood may have changed, but people's tastes have not.

They still want those familiar tangs on the tongue that bring them back to their childhoods.

"The best seller is the soft and sweet Li Hing Mui and that's our #1 seller and everything else is #2," said Young.

The raw seeds come from Hong Kong, but Mr. Young dreams up the recipes, combining unlikely ingredients into pungent stews of plum, persimmon, ginger, lemon or rock salt.

The clientele come from all over Oahu, the neighbor islands -- even other states.

"I live in Alaska and there's no seed shop," said Gail Kawakami Schwarber.  "So sometimes I go on the Internet, oh , I want to eat that, but it always tastes better when you're  in the islands eating the crack seed."

"I love the Li Hing Icees.  They come in Coke and strawberry," said regular customer Melissa Takaaze.  "The owner is so friendly -- generous.  He always puts the Li Hing seed and juice.  So tangy and delicious and sweet."

Mr. Young's got his own favorite flavor.

"You know as you grow older, you like sweet stuff so I'm no exception.  So, I like cherry," said Young.

Over the decades, the traffic has been consistent, enough for the Youngs to send their four kids to college.  Not bad for a store the size of your average bathroom.

"How long do you want to keep up the store," asked Pamela Young.  "Until I cannot work," said Young laughing.

Click here to see how Mr. Young makes a Li Hing Mui ICEE.

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