A new Pan-Asian restaurant named Zao Jun opens today in Bloomfield Township with a more casual vibe than its Birmingham big sister, Adachi. Zao Jun, which takes its name from the “kitchen god” of Chinese mythology, is a relaxed, modern space located in the Bloomfield Plaza Shopping Center at 6608 Telegraph Rd. The 184-seat restaurant features a cool color scheme as well as light wood accents and geometrical décor, making it a departure from Adachi’s traditional Japanese artwork and jewel-toned booths.
Lloyd Roberts, who is the executive chef at both restaurants, shares that the difference is intentional. “I didn’t want [Zao Jun] to be like Adachi,” he says. “I wanted it to be more like a family restaurant.” Where Adachi is more sophisticated, Zao Jun aims to be approachable — a place you can take the kids. Living in the area himself, he says, he noticed a lack of family restaurants.
Another way Roberts aims to distinguish the two restaurants is in their menus. Adachi’s menu exclusively features Japanese fare, whereas Zao Jun’s is inspired by various cultures Roberts has experienced on his many travels. Roberts was born in Jamaica and grew up in New York City. He has worked in cities across the world, including Moscow, Dubai, and Budapest, where he served as head chef at Nobu Budapest.
From these experiences, the chef curated dishes for Zao Jun that incorporate various Asian cuisines, including Thai, Chinese, Korean, and Indonesian. Some options include Thai Tom Gai soup, Mandarin Bang Chicken, and sushi, which is the only Japanese item on the menu. Roberts also included a number of vegetarian options on the menu, such as Eggplant Burrata, Mango Papaya Salad, and vegetarian sushi rolls. The culinary team cooks meats and vegetarian items in separate fryers.
For now, the restaurant is open for dinner only, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday. When they eventually get into the swing of things, Roberts says Zao Jun will be open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. until 11 p.m.