San Francisco is one of the nation’s most unique cities. This sense of diversity could be defined in a number of ways. True melting-pot population? Of course. Beaches and mountains within driving distance? Excellent. Tech-minded geeks and free-flowing foodies roaming the streets? Definitely.
In fact, Hubert Nguyen is the quintessential techie-foodie hybrid. As co-founder of the popular gadget website Ubergizmo.com, Nguyen and his team review the latest in consumer electronics, software, and mobile applications with humorous bite. In his spare time, Hubert Nguyen takes a bite out of San Francisco, turning his Parisian-trained tastes towards the best offerings in the Bay Area.
Haute Living chats with Hubert and shares his personal review below:
Haute Living: Where are you from originally?
Hubert Nguyen: I was born in Vietnam and moved to France at the age of five. I then grew up in a small town near Paris. I happily landed in the Bay Area in 1999.
HL: What were your favorite foods growing up?
HN: We’re all foodies in my family, but I mostly grew up on Vietnamese cuisine that my grandmother, mother, and father mastered. French cuisine was also on the menu and I love French pastries!
HL: What drew you to the Bay Area?
HN: Not surprisingly, work. In the late 90s, my job was to program 3D video game engines, and out of the blue, I got a job offer from 3dfx interactive. They called me on a Wednesday at 1 a.m. Paris-time and asked me if I could start on that Monday. That was the beginning of a great journey to Silicon Valley.
HL: How does San Francisco compare to Europe in terms of fine dining and cuisine?
HN: I travel quite a lot and fortunately, San Francisco is one of the best and the most diverse places to eat in the world. I feel very lucky to be able to enjoy all kinds of foods within the city.
HL: Your website Ubergizmo is a well-known gadget site. What is the most unique food-related gadget you have reviewed? What is the most practical foodie gadget?
HN: One that caught my eye recently is a high-tech kitchen that can curl back into a sphere when not in use. It’s a must-see. On a more practical side, “kitchen tech” is still a work in progress, but robots that can clean up the kitchen are being fine-tuned.
HL: What is the best restaurant in San Francisco?
HN: There are a ton of great places: Chez Papa (French) and Sunflower (Vietnamese) are two great places in Potrero Hill. Waterbar is in a new building with a beautiful view. If you like sushi, there’s Ozumo, but I would recommend Sushi Ran in Sausalito. For a casual dining, I recommend Thai Basil, Osha (Thai), or Le Charm (French). Finally, I like Fifth Floor’s “The Fifth Taste” (French), which is a five-course dinner with drink pairing.
HN: Eliane Fiolet, our co-founder, is the force behind those. For a crazy night out, I like Harlot and Mezzanine. For a more low-key style, there’s Varnish and the 111 Minna Gallery. And sometimes, I just like to have a nice drink and small talk at the St. Regis bar.
HL: You have guests from Paris in town. Where would you take them for the quintessential day tour of SF?
HN: Honestly, most people ask me to drive them to must-see places that they have seen in movies: the Golden Gate Bridge, the Palace of Fine Arts, Bay Bridge, Embarcadero, Lombard Street, and, of course, the steepest streets of San Francisco.
HL: What is the best coffee bar or café to sit and work on Ubergizmo?
HN: Isn’t it great to work on a web project? Nobody knows where you are working from! Axis Cafe (Potrero) and The Grove Fillmore are at the top of the list. Coupa Cafe in Palo Alto is also a great place to work.
HL: Running a start-up is a stressful job. Where do you go in San Francisco to relax?
HN: Oh, there are so many options. At the end of a productive day, I like gathering my friends together on the rooftop patio at Medjool in the Mission. (Just bring your jacket!) A long lunch at The Ramp is great way to get some fresh air. In the evening, watching the city from the Marriott View Lounge is just fabulous. But to be honest, lounging in the sun from my comfy sofa is my real favorite.