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What Makes Food “Sulit”?

August 4, 2019

It’s fitting that we Filipinos have the word sulit, to capture and expound on the concept of value-for-money. Because, let’s face it, even if we’re experiencing and enjoying a barrage of fancy and (relatively) expensive international food concepts, we’re always on the lookout for the sulit alternative. I think we’re predisposed to try and make every peso count, while still getting away with having a good time.

Though it’s easy enough to equate the term to being cheap, it’s often not the case. We don’t want something that’s easy on the pocket but leaves us hanging. Satisfaction, after all, is the underlying principle of getting that bang for your buck.

So what does make a meal sulit? Let’s take a look.

A Balance of Three Factors

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Looking at the factors that affect our perception of food, I’d say sulit just goes back to basics. It focuses on three things: Price, Portion, and Taste. Like the Venn diagram shows (side note: Venn diagrams are cool), when your meal occupies that sweet spot between the three, you can readily say that it is sulit.

Time and the Place

A curious thing about sulit though, is that our perception of it changes over time and with our spending power. For example, that favorite siomai meal you had in college was undeniably sulit back then. It filled you up for less than fifty pesos, and you could have it almost every day. Heck, I lived almost exclusively off the stuff for weeks on end.

But now that you’re a working stiff/corporate slave, you soon learn that a meal that costs over two hundred pesos counts as sulit too. Of course it’s not something that you’d have every day, but it’s still amazing to suddenly feel that nicer meals can be within your reach, too.

Can’t Pass Up a Good Deal

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The best thing about sulit is the smug feeling of satisfaction you get. It’s like finding a secret store that sells branded stuff at 70% off all the time, which is why a buffet that offers prime rib and foie gras for a couple of grand is just as sulit as a twenty peso bowl of pares that’s got a ton of meat. They both make you feel like you got away with something.

What are your favorite sulit meals? Aren’t Venn Diagrams cool? And did you consume ungodly amounts of siomai + rice, too? Let us know in the comments below!

Nico Goco Nico Goco

Nico is an engineer with a fondness for food, drink, and cooking. This is in serious conflict with his desire to lose weight. Writing is his outlet to make sure the right side of his brain still works. When free, he likes to read, travel, and nurture a dozen different hobbies. He also believes that the perfect fried chicken is the cure to anything.

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3 responses to “What Makes Food “Sulit”?”

  1. Adrian De Leon says:

    Capturing that elusive “sulit” sweet spot is incredibly hard. I think that’s because most people have different priorities in the three factors you mentioned. I for one prioritize taste over price and portions. At the exact same price point, I’d rather get served a fair amount of great tasting grub than gigantic, “ok lang” food (since it’s harder to finish off, and I hate leaving leftovers).

    So automatically, what may be sulit for one person might not be the same for another. The diner’s taste level, their income bracket and their knowledge of food preparation plays a big factor in defining what is sulit in the upper price points (since there are more factors to consider compared to your favorite ghetto grub joint). 🙂

    Minsan kasi, kahit tumaas na yung standard of taste nung tao because of their income, hindi naman tumataas food knowledge nila. So kahit can afford naman sila mag ramen, at na appreciate naman nila yung taste nun, magtataka pa din sila bakit ang mahal ng soup refill nito. Whenever I see someone complain about that, I want to ask them if they’re actually willing to spend upwards of 8 hours to make their own damn soup. Hehehehe.

    For me, a restaurant that’s really sulit is Sandy Daza’s Wooden Spoon. The serving portions might be a bit small compared to their competitors, but man, the difference in taste is just amazing for their price point.

  2. Volts Sanchez says:

    Speaking just for myself, I believe that taste can overcome portion size in certain situations. Price is not really negotiable (buy the best food that you can afford with all things considered).

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