Countless CombinationsCover Story
November 29, 2020
Story By: Paige Takeya | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo
The Counter Custom Burgers has been an anchor at Kahala Mall since it opened back in 2009. Eleven years later, new owner Jon Muranaka is hoping it sails to even greater success.
He’s been in charge since Oct. 2, and acknowledges that now is a less than orthodox time to be a new restaurant owner.
“It was about the opportunity,” he says, adding that he had been in talks with the previous ownership for a year prior, and that this was something he had been keen on doing for a long time.
For right now, Muranaka is learning the ropes (you can find him doing just about everything on a typical day: seating guests, washing dishes, serving food, bussing tables, doing prep) and is happy to serve as the local face of The Counter.
His real focus, however, is the food.
The No. 1 most popular item on the menu?
The Counter Burger ($15): an all-natural Angus beef patty topped with provolone, tomatoes, a lettuce blend, fried onion strings, sautéed mushrooms and garlic aioli on a brioche bun.
This being The Counter, however, means that choice is king. Don’t want to eat meat? No problem. The Impossible Burger ($19) features a meatless patty topped with herbed goat cheese, mixed greens, tomatoes, grilled red onions, avocado and garlic aioli on a brioche bun.
Or, want to eat a different kind of meat? The Chipotle Turkey ($11.50) is all-natural ground turkey topped with jalapeño jack, a lettuce blend, dried cranberries, scallions and a chipotle aioli on a brioche bun.
And if patrons still don’t like those premade options, well, just remember The Counter has always let its customers build the exact burger they want. On a keto diet? Easy to accommodate. Need to avoid gluten? No problem.
Despite that showcase of burger delights, Muranaka still is keen on sharing the many other things The Counter has to offer.
“A lot of people, they just know The Counter for burgers, so… I’ve been sharing the sides — the Sweet Sriracha Brussels Sprouts, the Buffalo Cauliflower (both $8) — and they are like, ‘Wow.’”
Little wonder, since said Brussels sprouts come fried and tossed in (of course) sweet Sriracha sauce, and the cauliflower is hand-breaded, fried and tossed with buffalo sauce, and served with buttermilk ranch.
Of course, The Counter has many fantastic non-burger offerings — including thick milkshakes, salads, chili and regular sandwiches, as well as a sizable drink menu.
As December approaches, Muranaka is running a gift card special: Every $50 purchase receives a $10 gift card in return.