Find this Burmese restaurant on Tory Street, just a short stroll from the nightlife hub of Courtenay Place. It’s named after owner Marlar Boon’s grandmother Mabel, who opened New Zealand’s first Burmese restaurant – called Monsoon – in 1978. Mabel died when Boon was young, but her legacy (and recipes) lives on.
The interior is spacious and divided into different zones – if there's a wait for a table, chances are you'll be perched at the bar to the left of the wall that's covered in charming patchwork material. Mabel's is unpretentious but every choice is purposeful and meaningful; the checked textiles were inspired by the Burmese longyi (sarongs) owned by Boon's dear, late uncle.
Curries and noodle dishes dominate the main courses, accompanied by fresh salads such as laphet thoke, a pickled tea-leaf salad and one of their signature dishes. Mohinga is a rice noodle and fish soup said to be the national dish of Myanmar (Mabel’s version includes a value-adding deep-fried onion fritter).
For a traditional vegetarian plate, try the tohu kyaw, a tofu fritter made from ground chickpeas. If you’re dining in a group, share plates are the way to go to get a full appreciation of the umami-heavy Burmese flavours.
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