One thing noticeable from our visit to Northern Vietnam was the significant influence that Chinese culture had on shaping the Vietnamese culture and history. We saw this prominently at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, the oldest university in Vietnam, which showed the Chinese influence in education and religion.
Another aspect of Vietnamese culture influenced by the Chinese is in its cuisine. There were many dishes that we had in Vietnam that were very much like Chinese-style cooking. This was especially true during our trip in Ha Long Bay. After trying some of the dishes, Kristi and I compared the taste to Chinese dishes that we knew from either Indonesia or the United States. We even commented that in some cases, if we were to do blind tasting we would’ve guessed incorrectly that those were Chinese food instead of Vietnamese.
The photo below was from our lunch on the second day at Ha Long Bay. This was particularly a very large and hearty lunch, as it was before we headed off to our second kayaking session. The dish on the photo was a pork dish cooked with five spice powder and soy sauce — a very familiar preparation to us, just like we had it at home in Indonesia.