Humans in hej hej - Marlar Boon

Humans in hej hej - Marlar Boon

This month we caught up with Marlar, owner of Wellington's most exciting restaurant Mabel's. Marlar has been supportive of hej hej from the begining - hustling Wellingtonians into pop ups and layering them in linen. She talks all things family, food and her top picks this season.

Introduce yourself in one sentence: 

I am a NZ born Burmese with the intent to share my food and culture with Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

What does a family get together look like in the Boon house?

I am really proud of cooking Burmese food.  It could vary from a spread of curries, rice and La phet thoke (fermented tea leaf salad)  or Mohinga (our Burmese national dish) which is a fish noodle soup.  Our house is cozy and our dog Nasu is always seeking the attention of our guests for a cuddle.  Our family brings a plate. The kids sit in the lounge and the adults around the dining table. I love to be in the kitchen dishing and serving everyone. We just renovated so it’s really easy for me to cook and be part of the atmosphere.

We also love to host our friends. I more than likely will be cooking Mohinga for them.  That’s usually their expectation of me and their special request.

Inspired by the hostess with the mostess (Auntie Mabel, of course), what are your top tips for cooking for friends and family?

My grandmother was a big feeder so that mindset is culturally ingrained in me.  Every new year's day she would cook Mohinga for 60 - 100+ friends and family, an act of kindness.  

I am very much reliant on cooking ahead of time.  For example a curry or Mohinga can be cooked in advance and frozen which also gives it more depth of flavour.  I make the soup base of my mohinga and pull it out the day before everyone comes over and stretch it with water and season.  That way I also am saving freezer space by making the soup.

We have just gone knee deep in ice cream Sundae’s.  This week we had friends over for our son’s 6th birthday and had Mohinga followed by cake and ice cream sundaes.  The table was covered in all the toppings - sprinkles, pretzels, wafers, m&m’s,  jellybeans, marshmallows, lollies, whipped cream and I made some sauces.  It just takes the pressure off and I think it is such a playful way to eat.  There is nostalgia in that.  

What’s your go-to crowd pleaser dish for summer? With a drink to match, of course. 

My dish for summer would easily be A Sone Thoke.  A sone means a variety and thoke means to mix together.  In A Sone Thoke you can have left over items such as cooked noodles, rice, potatoes, shredded papaya and carrot, cabbage and mix with various condiments such as dried shrimp, tamarind, coriander, fried garlic and onions, fish sauce and chilli.  It is then hand mixed to your taste.

We always have gin and tonics and gin and lemonades.  My husband Ian makes soda’s for Mabel’s and our other spot Crumpet so we are lucky to always have yum drinks at home.  Simple, no fuss but fun!

Originally designed to beat the heat, we feel like our easy breezy linens would be the perfect uniform for someone who worked in, say, a busy Burmese restaurant. Thoughts?

I have a few Hej Hej pieces from all the amazing pop up’s I have worked.  I am really lucky to be able to pull some of my linen pieces and wear them during a busy dinner service.  A big night for us is 150 people and there is lots of running around.  Naturally being a Wellingtonian and coming out of Winter I am also an expert at layering.  I love how I can dress and style my pieces in fresh ways to change it up.

I am a huge sucker for my new season favourite the SPF shirt in lemon.  If you have been into Mabel’s before our colour scheme is yellow, green and brown which actually reflects in my wardrobe.  

This has been such a fun Humans in hej hej, Marlar has been a friend and supporter for so long, and helped hej hej SO MUCH. We love her and love Mabels. When you are next in Wellington book for the best meal in town.


Mabel's is open Tuesday - Saturday

66 Tory Street

Te Aro, Wellington