Saba Rahimian is proof that you can go home again. The Sierra Oaks native was attending school in Austin, Texas, when she and her boyfriend, chef Seth Helmly, came to Sacramento last March for a family wedding. When the pandemic shut the country down mid-visit, they decided to stay awhile. Now, nine months later, they’re still here, proud owners of a small restaurant in East Sacramento.
The couple opened Joon Market on H Street in mid-December. At the moment, it’s a takeout-only place with a concise menu of sandwiches, grab-and-go salads and dips, and the odd smoked rotisserie item, with a strong emphasis on local grains, produce and proteins from small farms and ranches. Helmly, who has a specialty in breads, makes all the rolls and breads for the shop.
The food is thoughtful and interesting. The crispy chicken sandwich is a schnitzel-style chicken breast served on a house-made hoagie roll with house-made chow-chow pickles, green garlic mayo and locally grown lettuce. Persian chicken salad is made with smoked chicken and pickled radishes. And a yogurt dip features smoked yogurt blended with smoked carrots and harissa. Helmly does all his own butchery and operates a rotisserie smoker behind the restaurant. Each week, he smokes a different protein: whole chickens, racks of ribs, pork chops. Eventually, he plans to roast goats and lambs.
Rahimian and Helmly met while working at Austin’s Emmer & Rye, a farm-to-table restaurant known for milling the heirloom grains that go into its breads. (That’s where Helmly learned all about bread.) Before moving to Austin, Rahimian operated a Sacramento food truck called Granola Girl, and she still makes and sells granola at Joon Market.
The couple, who got engaged last August, plan to open two outdoor patios at Joon Market, where they can serve small shared plates plus draft beer and wine. And they want to expand the market menu to include house-made breads, tortillas, preserves, charcuterie and other things that people can pick up for a picnic or a meal at home. “That’s where the most fun for us is,” says Rahimian. “We get to be really creative and see how much it’s enjoyed at home.” Open Wednesday–Saturday 11 a.m.–7 p.m. 5401 H St.; (916) 389-0025; joon-market.com