Kim possible


POSTED: Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fit, athletic actor Daniel Dae Kim doesn't seem like the type to consume large quantities of oversized hamburgers and fries. Then again, The Counter is not about fast food. Furthermore, the competitive tennis player adheres to a high-protein diet, so the natural, hormone- and antibiotic-free Angus beef suits his needs. And that's just one of the reasons he decided to become part-owner of the new Kahala Mall restaurant.




The Counter: Custom Built Burgers

        » Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday

» Place: Kahala Mall


» Call: 739-5100; www.thecounterburger.com


The gourmet burger eatery—which Kim describes as clean, simple and open—began serving Monday to fanfare and queues, thanks in part to the publicity generated by a “;Lost”; star enjoying a new burst of screen time in ABC's serial drama.

It all started when Kim and veteran restaurateur D.K. Kodama played a round of golf together. “;We like to pretend that we're competitive,”; Kim laughed. The conversation drifted from strokes to franchises, and Kodama extended the invitation for Kim to join him, Ed Robles and Pablo Buckingham in their venture.



One morning last week, as a crew of cooks prepared for the lunch rush, Kim sat in a chrome chair beneath walls adorned with brightly painted skateboards. Savory aromas drifted from the kitchen into the square room that feels like an old-time diner with a hip, current flair.

“;I thought D.K. would be a great guy to be in business with; I wouldn't have opened a restaurant without his guidance,”; said Kim, who saw the wisdom of a family-style option in this dismal economy. “;Even if people are going through hard times, they're going to want to eat out once in a while. They're looking for comfort food. At the same time, it has to be high quality, and this fits the bill.”; The full bar doesn't hurt, either.

Though Kim fulfills the celebrity niche restaurants yearn for, he goes beyond the photo ops. “;D.K. has been surprised at how much more I'm willing to do,”; said Kim. “;If this is something I'm going to be a part of, I'd like to get to know it as best I can.”;

That said, “;Lost”; remains his top priority, and sometimes restaurant business affairs and shooting schedules clash. “;It requires me to budget my time a little more efficiently,”; he admitted. “;But it's a problem with riches.”;

Even when he's eating a creation topped with kim chee (the eatery boasts an unfathomable 300,000 combinations of “;custom-built burgers”;) with his family, the actor finds himself concerned that others in the restaurant enjoy their dining experience.

Might this enthusiasm lead to another restaurant enterprise? “;I'm already in one uncertain business,”; Kim chuckled. Yet that precarious industry is looking good after the revival of Jin Kwon, the character he has embodied for five years. Presumed dead at the end of last season, Jin—obviously an accomplished swimmer—returned to a wave of time-travel action on the island. “;It was a nice place for him to make his re-entry,”; and it's made the part “;something fun to play.”;

Next up for Kim is a turn at the Royal Albert Hall Theatre in London as the crooning and twirling lead in “;The King and I”; during the “;Lost”; hiatus this summer. Despite the limited four-week run, Kim said, “;it's an opportunity I didn't want to pass up.”;

Sounds familiar.