As I will be going on an Asia tour this November through Hong Kong, Beijing, and Vietnam, I am doing some research on Vietnamese cuisine--just in case some if its not-so-savory sounding foods (dog meat, for instance) disturb my semi-vegetarian diet during my stay.
According to http://www.geocities.com/vietnamrp/french_influence.htm, a website I would strongly recommend for research on Vietnam, the French had a large influence on Vietnamese food because of their colonization of Vietnam. One obvious influence is French bread.
According to www.reference.com, one popular dish, with noticeable French roots, is the "Vietnamese baguette, French bread containing paté, Vietnamese mayo, different selections of Vietnamese cold cuts and deli (a large variety, most commonly with ham, head cheese, and a Vietnamese bologna), pickled daikon and carrot, cucumber slices. Often garnished with coriander, black pepper."
Another influence on Vietnam's cuisine was neighboring China. There are many similarities between Chinese food and Vietnamese; rice is a staple part of diet, there are a lot of vegetables, and many people eat meats like chicken and pork. China's "baozi" inspired the Vietnamese Banh bao.
Some of Vietnam's more "exotic" meats include fertilized duck eggs (eating a nearly-developed embryo), snake, soft-shell turtle, and goat. Some of these are, however, according to www.reference.com,
"cocktail delicacies" with alcohol, and are not considered typical everyday
According to Wikipedia, "Its [Vietnam's] characteristic flavors are sweet (sugar), spicy (Serrano peppers), sour (lime), nuoc mam (fish sauce), and flavored by a variety of mint and basil."
Vietnam is also famous for its noodle dishes, which are acclaimed around the world.
And although dog meat and fertilized duck eggs may sound strange, keep in mind that American monstrosities like hot dogs and French fries probably seem weird to a lot of people!