Many people assume that Vietnamese food is highly influenced by French traditions. While that is true to a certain extent, the Chinese also influenced Viet foodways big time. Vietnam was a colony of China for nearly 1,000 years! Plus, there are legions of Vietnamese-Chinese people who’ve helped to shape Vietnamese food for generations. (Interactions via trade routes and with Vietnam’s neighbors factor into the mix too.)
My friends, Sophie and Eric Banh (below), the brother-and-sister team behind Monsoon and Ba Bar restaurants in Seattle could be the poster children for how Vietnamese food has blended with Chinese traditions. The Banhs grew up in Cho Lon in Saigon and speak Vietnamese and Chinese (as well as English!). They immigrated to Canada and found their way to relatively warmer climes in Washington State. Their flagship restaurants, Monsoon Capitol Hill and Monsoon East, help to define modern Vietnamese food in the Pacific Northwest.