BUFFALO, N.Y. - Bailey Avenue drivers near UB's South Campus pass a squat, nondescript building without a second thought. Inside, adventurous diners can find some of Buffalo's best traditional Vietnamese food.
Some might remember 99 Fastfood from its days in Niagara Square, where it began in 1999 (hence the name). It moved to its new location at Bailey and Highgate about seven years ago. Current co-owner, Minh Tran, took over about a year ago.
The specialty, as with many Vietnamese spots, is the pho (pronounced "fuh?" with the inflection). For the uninitiated, it's a flavorful broth with long, thin noodles, scallions, spices and meat, usually beef. Traditionally, the beef is added to the broth raw in such thin slices that it cooks almost immediately. It's served with bean sprouts and other vegetables on the side to add crunch, along with hoisin barbecue sauce and chili sauce to add for flavor.
Other specialties at 99 Fastfood include the barbecue short ribs and the fresh rolls (think an un-fried egg roll wrapped in rice paper, served with peanut sauce for dipping). Thai entrees like Pad Thai are also available for the less adventurous.
Vietnamese food can be a bit daunting for those who haven't tried it, but those who do are rewarded with some amazing and unique flavors. The bustling crowd at 99 Fastfood at lunchtime is proof of that.