Oka! Roko’s does it again

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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The Oka Festival was the place to be yesterday.

And so hundreds packed onto the Home Café compound at Malifa where the all popular annual Oka Festival was buzzing. There was something for everyone – not just food and drinks too.

For the third time running, Roko’s Restaurant team made up of Lolesio Tapusoa, Sole Faleolo and headed by Chef Aukistino, took out the most coveted title of the best oka on the island.

They impressed the Judges by showcasing their ability to deliver, yet again, on the art of making oka, scoring high marks in preparation, method and presentation.

Other teams came from the two Sheraton properties at Mulifanua and Apia, Taumeasina Island Resort, Scallinis, Return to Paradise, Sinalei and Tanoa Tusitala.  

Home Café in Malifa was taken over by food lovers from all walks of life gathering to enjoy the summer vibes of a food festival complete with cool sounds of their favourite island reggae tunes.

The intense competition between the oka teams at the center of the Oka Festival was offset by the assorted stalls surrounding the flurry of activity taking place. 

The competition resembled a cross fit work out as competitors raced to prepare the coconut milk in the old traditional way of manually scraping and squeezing the coconut gratings.

Among it all was Managing Director of Aga Reef Resort, Va’atuitui Apete Meredith, who spoke to the Sunday Samoan and being caught up in the spirit of oka fever, he described the event with his own unique play on the word of the day.

“Oh it’s a great buzz here, I think Samoa Culinary Association has done a really great job of ‘oka-nising’ this fabulous ‘oka-eation’, we hope that everyone enjoy some ‘oka-licious’ food,” he laughed.

“It’s just really good to see the passion behind it, I mean everybody was behind it and we’ll see how we go next year, we’ll show our hand next year.”

The Festival featured a diverse display of local food and beverage businesses serving up gelato, curry, tropical fruit jams, and local fresh produce and to everyone’s surprise, oka burrito. 

Adding to the dynamic atmosphere were some jewelry stalls and even a barber station ready to serve up some quality cuts to the festival goers. 

CONGRATULATIONS ROKO'S: The winning team of Lolesio Tapusoa, Sile Faleolo, Aukusitino Suifaatau.
CONGRATULATIONS ROKO'S: The winning team of Lolesio Tapusoa, Sile Faleolo, Aukusitino Suifaatau.

Moemoana Schwenke, visiting from New Zealand, was enjoying all that was on offer and told the Sunday Samoan that she hoped to see more of these events in the future.

“I like it; I think it’s good for outsiders, people from other countries to see how we do it in Samoa, especially since we are doing it from scratch."

“I love oka, especially with lots of lemon, it’s like my favourite food. I also like that there’s a lot of variety of food here." 

“I saw some curry back there and I’m seeing a lot of hotel stalls and there are even jewelry stalls. I’ll definitely come back and I think they should have more things like this.”

No local food festival would be complete without a few Taula brews as Home Café regulars joined in the festive vibes of the event, enjoying a few beers with their food.

Gabby Bush of New Zealand was doing just that with her friends when she spoke to the Sunday Samoan.

“It’s such a gorgeous atmosphere here, beautiful sunny day. Home Café is so lovely during the day. I’m just having an afternoon beer first and then I’m going to try some oka after they finish competing.”

First time festival goer, Jack, was impressed with the event saying.

“It’s my first time being here at the Oka Festival." 

"It’s pretty good; they need more events like this in Samoa. I think the food and wine festival was quite good, it’s good for the small businesses to come out. I just think they need more space for people to see what’s going on."

“My favourite part about today is the beers." 

"Anything tastes good with beer in Samoa, it’s just so hot compared to drinking beer in somewhere like Dunedin. Cold beers on this hot day and second to that are the oka burrito.”

Combining all the ingredients for a successful outdoor event, the Oka Festival was a hit again this year with satisfied festival goers staying well beyond the finished time of the event promising an even bigger and better festival celebrating the much loved oka.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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