Well perhaps, there's more than what meets the eye (and touches your taste buds) that people do value highly, since it helps build the memorable eating experience.
Meal that entertains you
If you're familiar with Bandung culinary scene, fat chance that you will also know about "Bubur Ayam Talaga Mang Haji Oyo", or "Bubur Mang Oyo" for short. As it name implies, this business sells bubur ayam, or rice porridge with chicken toppings; quite a common breakfast in Bandung as well as in many other Indonesian cities.
The surprising truth is, after being a regular visitor for some years, what special from Mang Oyo's porridge is... nothing in particular. Yes the porridge base is good, though not great; the shredded chicken is good, but nothing really special; it has fried soy beans as regular Bandung style chicken porridge does; it has the same type of crackers served everywhere. So what makes this one a special?
The thickness of the porridge, that's one of the difference; Mang Oyo cook the porridge until it achieve the certain thickness that when you flip the porridge-filled bowl in cirle, the porridge wont spills; yet it's still within the normally acceptable consistency of porridge so it still feels like a regular bowl of porridge instead of eating a glue or ongol-ongol*.
For example, he would call the celery spreads as "ganja" (cannabis), fried soy beans as "kerikil" (gravel), and uses unique words to mentions toppings of the porridge: "apel", which shorts for "ati ampela" (liver and gizzard), "atel" for "ayam telor" (chicken plus egg), "ayat" for "ayam ati" (chicken plus liver), and "acak" for "ayam cakwe" (chicken plus cakwe** toppings).
He's also chatty and actively communicating with his customers; this personality of Mang Oyo, I believe, is the key to the success of his bubur ayam chain of stalls.
Helped by the consistent good quality of food he provides, and services his staffs performs, viral marketing then happens just as a logical consequences; hence Mang Oyo's business lasts for over 30 years without a single advertisement ever made on conventional media.
Meal that brushes your nerves
Latah (n): a nervous condition characterized by erratic involuntary imitative behavior, often pornographic or socially disapproved; other irrational imitative behavior (e.g. imitation of speech, etc); Uncontrollable habit of saying embarrassing things.Based from my own experience, not everyone is a big fan of these kind of show accompanying their meal time, but like it or against it, people aware that there are something special going on in these soto ayam stalls that worth mentioning (Cak Anton now has several branches open across Jakarta), and doesn't mind sharing the stories to their friends; another viral marketing in process.
Meal that is Purple gets spread around
These two examples are just the small portion of business that thrives through the non-food related Unique Selling Point, and it's a good way of differentiating your business, especially when improving food quality up to a significant difference than the competition requires very big efforts.
So if you find yourself in the middle of a fierce competition with not much product improvement could be made, creating a unique eating experience for your customers might become a "purple cow" that triggers viral marketing to your benefit. (byms)
*Ongol-ongol is a glutinous cake made from tepung kanji, or tapioka starch.
**Cakwe is fried dough shaped in double rods made from flour.
Image from: http://buburayamoyotea.blogspot.com and http://jgfg.vivanews.com/news/read/175600-soto_gebraak
Definition from: http://www.babylon.com/definition/latah/Indonesian and http://betterthanenglish.com/latah-indonesian