Syrus Kwan and Dee Russell serve customers at the Little Someone booth in the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market. (photos by John Gregory)
Delicious dumplings at the Farmer’s Market
While Syrus Kwan is the owner of the Little Someone booth featuring Hong Kong cuisine at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market each Saturday, his cheerful assistant can’t be overlooked. That assistant just happens to be the owner’s mother, Dee Russell.
This delightful duo serves up Hong Kong-style hand crafted dumplings and more. A visit to their booth is always a fun experience because these two are excited about the food and they are full of positive energy no matter how busy they might be. They both enjoy their work and admire Kwan’s culinary creations.
“My food is half traditional and half is creative,” Kwan said. “For example, the dumpling, I will make tomato and beef dumpling because this is not the traditional one. And then I would want to try something that is very new, maybe the chicken with cheese.”
One of the favorite dishes is pak choi and pork dumplings, he said.
“Because I’m from Hong Kong, I wanted to bring some Hong Kong-style food here,” Kwan explained. “For example, the dumpling … In Hong Kong we always eat the dumplings with noodles and soup. But here maybe the people eat the steamed dumplings more, so I wanted to bring a more different experience for the dumpling or the food or the tea.”
Beverages such as tea are a big aspect of the Little Someone culinary experience in which Kwan places a large amount of effort. Kwan and his mother serve up their drinks as if they are creating masterpieces on the spot. They set out the full cups and make sure their customers admire the array of colors, often holding them up to the sun for an illuminated view. Some have layers of various hues.
“Hong Kong-style tea is very different from Chinese-style tea,” he said. “Hong Kong tea is not that traditional. Maybe we will add something. For example, we will have green tea and add rose or we will add syrup. We will make it a little bit different.”
Beyond the green tea with rose, Little Someone serves honey lemon soda, which Kwan makes himself. The ginger tea with brown sugar is also popular, especially in the colder months, Kwan said. It can be served warm or cold, but the ginger will warm the body one way or the other, Kwan explained.
Kwan came to the United States one year ago and started his small business in September of this year. He prepares his food in a commercial kitchen and transports it to local farmer’s markets where he sets up his booth. Kwan is able to develop his recipes and enjoy his customers’ reactions at the farmer’s markets in hopes of opening a permanent restaurant one day.
Kwan has another career as an illustrator. He launched a book about Hong Kong last year. He said that he is now working with a U.S. company and plans to publish another book next year. The name Little Someone originated with one of his illustrated characters.
As he continues his work as an artist, Kwan plans to advance his culinary efforts, moving forward step-by-step until he achieves his dream of starting a restaurant — which will be decorated with some of his illustrations.
Visit the Little Someone Facebook page: facebook.com/littlesomeone.
The Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market is open for shoppers from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every single Saturday at 10380 Spring Canyon Road, in the Innovations Academy parking lot. Visit srfm.org.