The Counter Malaysia: Custom Built Burgers @ Pavilion

April 22, 2015

Festooned with balloons, The Counter - a California-based chain that's billed as 'the 21st century's bold answer to the classic burger joint' - celebrates the launch of its first Malaysian outpost in Pavilion this week, promising eye-popping possibilities for customisable burgers that'll tempt ambitious & adventurous customers.

The Counter elevates the concept of building your own burger to dizzying heights - pick from five types of patties (halal-certified beef, turkey, chicken breast, hand-cut ahi tuna or vegan veggie, in weight categories of 150gm, 225gm or 450gm), then choose from a dozen cheeses, 23 kitchen-made sauces & 44 toppings (!!!), packaged in a pretzel bun, brioche-style bun, multigrain bun, ciabatta, English muffin or sourdough bread. It'd take more than a lifetime to try every potential combination.

The results can be interesting - a beef burger with Danish blue cheese, house-made chili, garlic croutons, fresh jalapenos, hard-boiled egg & red relish? Probably not our brightest idea ever, but for non-curmudgeons, much of the fun may rest in the experimentation. For further customisation, you can also tweak how your meat should be cooked: rare, medium rare, medium (our order), medium well or well-done. Bonus: The Counter promises that its beef is antibiotic-free, with no added hormones.

Our turkey burger was a pleasure to photograph, with the morning sun streaming through The Counter's windows overlooking Raja Chulan. Vibrant colours burst forth from this hearty ensemble with horseradish cheddar cheese, kale, ripened red tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes & oven-dried tomatoes, paired with two separate sauces, Tex-Mex guacamole & Thai peanut. Not quite the perfect burger yet - not all the ingredients taste irrefutably good - but still worth sampling for burger enthusiasts.

A burger in a bowl, without a bun? That's doable too at The Counter - we had chicken patties stacked with soft-ripened brie, dill pickle chips, roasted red peppers, sliced red onions, grilled red onions & onion confit on a bed of quinoa, coupled with country buttermilk ranch sauce, for a relatively wholesome & nutritious bet. Customisable burgers start from RM28-RM32 per serving - not inexpensive, but there's a lot that goes into each burger. The Counter in Malaysia is still fine-tuning a few things for its supply chain, food seasoning & kitchen work flow, but its team is reassuring in its enthusiasm to hear feedback from patrons.

If you prefer to play it safe or to escape the strain of choosing your own burger combination, no worries: The Counter also showcases 'Expert Build' burgers, tried & tested all over North America & other nations, from Australia to Ireland. Tuna Tataki features ahi tuna with organic mixed greens, pickled carrots, daikon slaw, sliced radish, scallions, ponzu & sweet sriracha sauce (RM32 for 150gm patty, RM38 for 225gm patty above, with another RM4 for an avocado add-on). Alas, there isn't a bison burger for now at The Counter KL, unlike what you'd find in, say, San Jose, CA.

It might seem paradoxical, but one of The Counter's vegan patty combos - cannily titled 'The Contradiction' - partners a patty of red peppers, black beans, mushroom, zucchini, brown rice, spinach, onions, olives, corn & carrots with determinedly carnivore-pleasing beef bacon & a sunny-side-up, plus spinach, jalapeno jack & a roasted garlic aioli sauce. P.S. You can also build your own grilled cheese sandwich here (RM18), choosing three of these - Yellow American, Sharp Provolone, Greek Feta, Cheddar, Savoury Swiss, Shredded Parmesan, Fresh Mozzarella, Brie, Gruyere, Blue, Jalapeno Jack & Horseradish Cheddar.

No lack of intriguing side dishes & drinks, including trendy-in-2013/2014 ingredients out of the U.S., from the spicy-sweet sriracha fries (RM18) to the crunchy kale salad with jicama, celery, green cabbage, Greek feta & lemon vinaigrette (RM18). You can even build a personalised milkshake at The Counter, blending vanilla ice cream with components like apple crumble, bananas, caramel, cherry, espresso, brownies, cookies, peanut butter, pineapple, coconut & Nutella (starts from RM16-RM18).

The Counter Burger KL Malaysia
Dining Loft, 7th Floor, Pavilion shopping mall, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

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