Asian Student Food: What Do Students in China and Japan Eat?

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What’s the best way to experience the local culture?

The best way to experience the local culture is to eat the local food, of course. But what is “local food”? It’s not just the food from the country you’re visiting. It’s also the food from the region you’re visiting.

In Asia, student food varies widely by country. In China, for example, lunchtime is a big deal. Students head to nearby restaurants to grab a quick, inexpensive meal. Popular lunch options include steamed baozi and jiaozi (both stuffed buns).

In this article, I’ll explore the different types of student food in Asia and what it’s like to be a student in each country.

Asian student food

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Exploring the Diverse and Delicious Student Food in Asia

Rice is a staple food in many Asian countries, and it’s no different for students. Here are some types of rice commonly eaten by students in Asia:

  • Jasmine rice
  • Sticky rice
  • Plain white rice

The Bowl: Noodles

Noodles are another common student food in Asia. Here are some types of noodles you might find:

  • Ramen noodles
  • Udon noodles
  • Soba noodles

Students often eat noodles in a simple vegetable broth or with a few basic ingredients included.

The Visual Delight: Vegetable Cuisine

Asian cuisine is known for its use of colorful and fresh vegetables. Here are some common vegetables you might find in student meals:

  • Bok choy
  • Bean sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage

Students often dilute the flavors of their vegetable dishes with soy sauce or other sauces.

The Resourceful Swap: Noodle Bowls

Noodle bowls are a popular and resourceful way for students to make a quick and satisfying meal. Here are some different noodle bowl recipes you might find:

  • Pho noodle bowls
  • Ramen noodle bowls
  • Udon noodle bowls

Students can swap out different ingredients to create new and adventurous flavors.

The International Resource: Student Food in Asia

If you’re an international student studying in Asia, don’t be afraid to try the local student food. You might discover new and exciting flavors that you never knew existed.

Exploring the Delicious and Nutritious Student Food Scene in China

When it comes to student food in China, lunchtime is a big deal. Many students will head to nearby restaurants or stalls to grab a quick and inexpensive meal. Some popular lunch options include steamed baozi and jiaozi, which are stuffed buns and dumplings, respectively. These dishes are especially popular in the north of China, where they are a staple of the local cuisine.

Sampling Authentic Chinese Cuisine

If you’re looking for a more authentic experience, there are plenty of places to try traditional Chinese dishes. One of the quickest and most popular ways to do this is by visiting a street food stall. These stalls often serve freshly steamed dumplings, which are a maximum of a few yuan each.

Tailoring Your Tour to Your Tastes

For those who want to try a variety of dishes, a food tour can be a great option. Many tour companies offer food tours that focus on specific regions or types of cuisine. You can recognize the most authentic places by looking for the association of student nutrition and health promotion, which is a government-funded initiative to improve the health and nutrition of students.

Reviewing the Best Places to Eat

If you’re looking for the best renditions of specific dishes, there are plenty of online reviews and recommendations to help you out. Many students have participated in these reviews and are grateful for the financial support from their schools, teachers, and staff.

Implementation of Nutrition and Health Promotion

The association of student nutrition and health promotion has been instrumental in improving the quality of student food in China. They provide funding and support for schools to implement healthy eating initiatives and encourage student participation in these programs. Thanks to their efforts, students in China have access to nutritious and delicious meals that support their health and well-being.

Japanese Student Food: A Unique Culinary Experience

Despite featuring different types of food, the way Japanese students start their day typically consists of boiled or plain rice, vegetables, and a main dish. Examples of the main dish include grilled fish, chicken, or pork, and are served carefully placed on the table. The significance of the placement of the food is that it shows respect for the ingredients and the person who prepared it.

Rotating Sweet Cart

Japanese students receive a unique treat during lunchtime, a rotating sweet cart. The cart is pushed around the area, and students get excited to see what sweet treat they will receive that day. Despite the excitement, students can also be disappointed if they don’t get what they were hoping for.

The Staple: Pickled Vegetables and Rice Bowl

The staple of Japanese student food is basically pickled vegetables and a rice bowl. The vegetables are typically served in a metal container designed to keep the food fresh. The value of the ingredients is high, and the cooking is specific to the kitchen.

Learning to Handle the Food

Japanese students learn how to handle the food properly, and it plays a tremendous role in their function as a student. They typically spend a little time learning how to mold the rice and influence the taste of the food.

Eating Outside and Running Out of Time

Japanese students are given a proper lunch break, but sometimes they choose to eat outside of the school. In this case, they have to learn how to control the food and make sure it doesn’t get cold. If they are running out of time, they have to learn how to eat quickly and efficiently.

Trying New Things

Japanese student food is not always easy to handle, and students may find it difficult to try new things. However, they are encouraged to try new foods and expand their palate. This is because Japanese cuisine is rich in flavor and has a lot to offer.

Ichijūsansai: The Nutritional School Lunches in Japan

Ichijūsansai is a traditional Japanese meal that typically includes a serving of white rice, soup, and three dishes featuring vegetables, fish, or meat. This meal is usually served hot and fresh, and it’s a complete and nutritional meal for students.

What do the lunches include?

Japanese school lunches are typically served in classrooms, and they feature a variety of dishes and sides. Some of the dishes that are commonly served in Japanese school lunches include:

  • Salads featuring green vegetables
  • Skewered meat or fish
  • Traditional Japanese dishes like tempura or teriyaki
  • Milk or tea to drink

How do students choose their meals?

In Japan, students usually choose their meals in advance, and they can choose from a variety of options. The meals are usually served in a bento box, which is a traditional Japanese lunch box. The bento box is divided into compartments, which makes it easy to separate the different dishes.

Why are school lunches in Japan special?

School lunches in Japan are special because they are designed to be nutritional and balanced. The meals are prepared fresh each day, and they are designed to provide students with the energy they need to focus on learning. Additionally, the meals are served in classrooms, which helps to create a sense of community among students.

What is the nutritional value of Ichijūsansai?

Ichijūsansai is a nutritional meal that provides students with a balanced diet. The meal typically includes:

  • Carbohydrates from the white rice
  • Protein from the fish or meat dishes
  • Vitamins and minerals from the vegetables
  • Fluids from the soup, milk, or tea

Overall, Ichijūsansai is a complete and nutritional meal that helps to support the health and wellbeing of Japanese students.


So there you have it- the typical student food in Asia is a delicious and resourceful way to get through the day. Asian countries have different student types and rice is a staple food, but students eat noodles for a quick meal. I hope you’ve learned a thing or two about student food in Asia and can use this knowledge to make some delicious meals of your own.

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.