The Counter at Kahala Mall

Never has a burger joint generated more buzz around town than The Counter. After opening about 7 or 8 months ago, it’s been talked about and blogged about so much I felt like I was literally the last person left on earth who hasn’t dined there yet. One thing about me is I hate crowds. I avoid the mall on weekends and newly opened restaurants. (After watching the long lines at the opening of the new Victoria’s Secret on the news, I refuse to go there for at least a few more months). I’m also pretty skeptical of hype, and there certainly was a lot of hype about The Counter. Other than the fact that you fill out an SAT-Test like questionnaire to choose a million and one combinations of toppings and sauces, what is so special about their burgers, I wondered?

Coincidentally, I knew the second-to-last person left on earth who hadn’t dined there yet (my friend and fellow “boardmember”) so she, myself and another friend met up for dinner after work.

As soon as we sat down, it was time to take that famous SAT Test. It brought me back to my high school days as I pondered the multiple choices and filled in the bubbles with my #2 pencil: beef, chicken, turkey, or veggie patty, bun type (or in a bowl over lettuce), cheeses, toppings and sauces. I must say though, that this process was a lot of fun, as I visually constructed my special burger in my head. Then the server came to collect our answer sheets, and “checked” our answers. Lastly, she asked us the desired doneness of the meat.

I ended up sticking to a beef burger ($8.95) with my favorite toppings: blue cheese, avocado ($1.00 extra), lettuce, tomato, grilled onions with a roasted garlic aioli sauce on a regular bun.

The Counter - Beef Burger ($8.95) with Avocado ($1.00)

The Counter - Beef Burger ($8.95) with Avocado ($1.00)

Here’s a cross section of my burger. Their burgers are tall and compact, with a thick patty.

100709 counter burger a cut

My friend had a Ham & Swiss Grilled Sandwich ($7.50).

The Counter - Grilled Ham & Swiss Sandwich ($7.50)

The Counter - Grilled Ham & Swiss Sandwich ($7.50)

And our other friend had a beef burger ($8.95) with blue cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato with roasted garlic aioli sauce on a honey wheat bun.

The Counter - Beef Burger ($8.95)

The Counter - Beef Burger ($8.95)

Of course we had to order a medley of deep fried side dishes to accompany our burgers. Fried Dill Pickle Chips ($4.95) served with apricot sauce – interestingly tasty.

The Counter - Fried Dill Pickle Chips ($4.95)

The Counter - Fried Dill Pickle Chips ($4.95)

Trio of Fries ($6.50): Sweet Potato Fries, Onion Rings, and French Fries served with ranch, BBQ, and horseradish aioli sauces. (This trio is not on the menu, but our server kindly suggested it when we couldn’t decide between the three). Their fries and onion rings are on the thinner side, but I like it that way.

The Counter - Trio of Fries ($6.50)

The Counter - Trio of Fries ($6.50)

You can tell their burgers are made with fresh 100% beef and they don’t mess too much with it – it tastes like the simple burgers you would make for a BBQ at home. To answer my initial question, their burgers are not anything special or particularly juicy or soft. But at The Counter, it really is the endless possibilities and build-it-yourself process that makes the dining experience. They also have the perfect selection of classic side dishes and homemade ice cream shakes to accompany your tailor-made burger. Maybe I’m just buying into all the hype, but all I know is it was the most rewarding multiple choice test I’ve ever taken!

OVERALL: GOOD
PRICE RANGE: $8.95-13.95 for burgers, $1.50-6.50 for sides. Click here to view the menu.
MY BILL: $14.00
RETURNING?: Probably

The Counter
(Kahala Mall, by Whole Foods)
4211 Waialae Avenue E-1
Honolulu, HI 96816
808.739.5100
Mon-Thu 11:00a-10:00p
Fri-Sat 11:00a-11:00p
Sun 11:00a-9:00p

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4 Responses to “The Counter at Kahala Mall”


  1. 1 Er October 9, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Yay! You finally blogged about The Counter! 😉 I’ve been there a few times now…and I like it! I actually usually get the chicken burger. I’ve tried the actual hamburger once, and I prefer the chix.

    I love that you can build your own burger…that’s the best part of the whole experience! You can pick EXACTLY what you want! I love putting sprouts on it…and recently I’ve added the boiled egg which I kinda like.

    Oh, and I do have to rave about their sweet fries! I’m normally NOT a sweet potato fan at all, but…in this “fries” format…YUMMY! 🙂 I usually get the 50/50, with the sweet fries & regular fries.

    We should go for one of our GNOs, now that the crowd has finally subsided a bit.

    • 2 honolulueats October 11, 2009 at 10:27 am

      I should try the chicken burger next. It’s a grilled chicken breast (vs. ground chicken patty), right?
      Yes, their sweet potato fries were really yummy. I wondered about that boiled egg too… is it sliced? I wonder why is a boiled egg free, but you have to pay $1.00 for a fried egg?

      • 3 Er October 11, 2009 at 2:20 pm

        Yup, it’s a grilled chicken breast. It’s good!

        I noticed that too about the egg…Maybe the fried egg takes more “work.” 😉

  2. 4 Er October 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Just went to The Counter again this week. Got the chix. Good stuff! I tried a different sauce this time…Caesar instead of my usual garlic aioli. Pretty good!


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