Don’t get me wrong, I live for all these foods.
But, when something different (and good) arrives in Cardiff, it’s a genuine cause for celebration; something which makes the city’s dining out scene that little bit more diverse.
Leyli Joon & Co is a Persian-influenced catering and events company which is owned by Welsh chef Leyli Homayoonfar. With a Persian-Welsh background, Homayoonfar’s career has taken her from sous chef at Bar 44 to head chef at Jamie Oliver’s Cooking School (RIP), before opening her own company which caters for pop-ups, weddings and corporate events.
Tramshed Tech in Cardiff’s Grangetown was the venue for the pop-up we visited. The massive open plan office space was transformed into a buzzing restaurant with intimate lighting and Instagram friendly ivy table runners. I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the coolest dining spaces I’ve eaten at in Cardiff.
£45 bought us an intricate five course menu - an impressive feat when catering for over 70 people in a kitchen without any permanent hobs or ovens.
The bonus of the night was bring your own booze without any corkage. We of course demolished a six pack of phenomenal hazy hoppy and sour beers from Cheltenham’s finest, Deya.
One of the key threads of Leyli Joon’s cooking is their superb use of spice - all the dishes we ate were complex with multiple layers of flavour.
Double cheese is a good way to kick off any meal as far as I’m concerned. A pile of soft and creamy Welsh burrata was topped with salty samphire, soft and sweet cherry tomatoes and pul biber (warming chilli flakes and not Justin’s cousin). Even more fun was to be had on the other side of the plate - super-crisp shredded wheat style pastry cocooned an oozy and stringy ball of melted cheese which was pepped up by vivid herb oil.
A pair of tacos were served on lavash bread rather than corn tortillas. Tender king prawns, fiery harissa sauce, sweet and zingy pickled pineapple salsa and avocado made for a deliciously Middle Eastern take on this dish.
A boulder of long-cooked shreds of tender lamb was coated in a well-spiced crumb. KiIler accompaniments balanced the meat’s richness - a smooth and smoky baba ganoush, a bold flavoured wild garlic and green chilli sauce, and creamy yoghurt.
Corn ribs with a smoky and salty taramasalata and spicy mixed nuts and seeds was a great idea in principle. However, the dish’s slightly tepid temperature meant it didn’t deliver the full impact - an issue with a couple of dishes as we were one of the last tables to be served.
The final savoury course saw a perfectly tender piece of pork belly (with sadly semi-crisp crackling) served with epic gravy made with sweet and tangy pomegranate molasses, a caramelised wedge of celeriac shawarma, smooth celeriac puree and juicy pearls of pomegranate.
Beautifully fluffy rice dotted with pistachios, barberries and roast butternut squash was a lovely side-carb.
The texture and flavour combinations of dessert were genius. A gloriously smooth and creamy white chocolate cremeux had a very slight chew inspired by the texture of Turkish ice cream. With the added sweetness of candied pistachios and cotton candy, vital acidity was provided by tart and juicy grapefruit segments and gel.
Leyli Joon & Co cooked us a delicious meal in a buzzing relaxed space. Their wonderfully spiced food brings something unique to south Wales and I can't wait to see what they do next.
Leyli Joon & Co
Email - email@example.com
Address - Tramshed Tech, Unit D, Pendyris St, Cardiff CF11 6BH
Telephone - 029 2010 3090