One similarity on schools all around the world is that they provide food for their students during lunch or break times. However, the kind of meals that they prepare can be really different as it depends on the country and the type of food that the people there usually have. A lot of you don't know that we are based in Malaysia and most of our staffs are Malaysians; which is why some of you get so surprised on why we make comparisons on Korea and Malaysia so often! So today, we are focusing on the differences on school food served in Korea and Malaysia!
While these two countries share the same qualities of being asian countries, the contrast of food can be big!
Korean School Food
The main thing about the food served in Korean schools that remain the same is that in every meal, there is always rice and soup paired together. With that, the best part about Korean school food is that the side dishes, also known as banchan (반찬) which are so loved by Malaysians and can only be found in Korean restaurants, are regularly served together with the meals during lunch in Korean schools. This sounds like a dream for a lot Malaysians as a lot of them have to pay a lot in Korean restaurants to enjoy such simple meals when in Korea, having food like this is considered an everyday thing; which is like a luxury for Malaysians who love Korean culture!
Examples of food served in Korean schools : bibimbap, stir-fried pork, jajangmyeon, kimchi jjigae
In Korea, the students spend most of their time in school; meaning that it is normal for them attend classes the whole day, including going to private academies (학원) right after spending a whole day in school. Since there are students who don't have the privilege of attending private academies, some public schools in Korea offer night classes. This is why schools also serve dinner in the cafeteria as majority of Korean students are at school from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m..
Another big difference Korean school cafeterias have with Malaysian schools is that everyday there is a different menu, meaning that the students won't get bored of constantly eating the same food all the time. Schools in Korea also make sure that their meals are balanced, that's why they always provide veggies and fruits for students as well. The costs for the students' food is already included in their school fees.
In most Korean schools, the students take turns with handling the cafeteria's clean-up tasks. They don't wash the dishes obviously, but they help collect all the lunch trays as well as the utensils and they clean up whatever trash is left in the cafeteria before heading to their next class.
You can watch more on Korean school food here!
Malaysian School Food
In Malaysia, school cafeterias serve food in a way where there are a number of vendors who rent a stall in the cafeteria and they sell their food. In a way, we do have various cuisines to choose from like Malay food, Indian food, Chinese food and even Western food but the thing is, unlike Korean schools where the menus are different everyday, these cafeteria vendors serve the same thing every day.
An example is if there's an Indian food stall, chances are the vendor will only serve one menu all the time which is roti canai and curry. It is understandable as it is the easiest to make, but the main thing is that even with the various cuisine choices that Malaysian students have, it's still that same thing all the time. Another example is in almost every school in Malaysia, there will be a stall where they sell fried foods like nuggets and sausages. The thing is, it's always the same kind.
Another main difference is that while Korean school food provides a balanced meal completed with rice, meat, fruits and veggies, especially where the meat is not fried all the time, the school food in Malaysia is mostly oily, spicy and sweet, especially the drinks. The schools in Malaysia in a way focuses on the type of food that children and teenagers like to eat, therefore most of the food doesn't consist of healthy options like vegetables and fruits.
Malaysian schools don't provide dinner for their students as school ends around lunch time, latest is at 6 p.m. if there's extra-curricular activities. Unlike Korea, Malaysian students have to pay for their food with their own pocket money. Students also only clean up after themselves; they don't have cafeteria clean-up tasks just like how Korean students do.
We hope that this post was insightful to any of you who were curious about the differences on school food served in both these amazing countries! Want to know more differences on the school systems between Korea and Malaysia in depth? You can read more about it here!