Photo By: Kenneth Alexander Scott
Photo By: Kenneth Alexander Scott

Sushi Gang, Sushi Gang, Sushi Gang: The Newest Sushi Spot in the Desert Isn’t Far From You

The Genius Behind Venue Sushi Bar & Sake Lounge Has Done it Again With Sandfish by Engin Onural

Written By: Jasmín Nelson
Photographed By: Kenneth Alexander Scott

Expert: Engin Onural
Credentials: Owner and Executive Sushi Chef at The Venue Sushi Bar & Sake Lounge andSandfish by Engin Onural

Q: When did you know the culinary path was for you?

Engin Onural: Young. Very young. I was already cooking with my mother and making family dinners. I was already making a bold statement in the neighborhood. 

Q: What is your favorite food memory?

EO: There are so many of them already, and with my travels, new ones are constantly made. A significant memory was when I was around 10 years old. We went to CN Tower in Toronto. Their restaurant, the food, the views, the chef who came out and took care of our table personally created a nice memory.

Q: How do you get your inspiration?

EO: Traveling. I have been heavily inspired from Scandinavia lately, traveling to Denmark, Sweden and Norway [and] understanding their culture. What they eat and the native ingredients are what makes me happy, and when I’m happy I get inspired.

Q: What do you hope guests will take away from eating your dishes and from their dining experience?

EO: Our dishes are always well balanced with flavors so you actually get the flavor of the ingredients you are eating. Our Omakase (chef’s tasting menu) is constantly evolving. Recently, we had Spanish octopus, bluefin tartar with Japanese tobiko and toast, Hamachi sashimi with takuan mentaiko paste, elderflower crème brûlée and the list will go on.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

EO: The best advice was from my family. I sat them all down at the table and told them this is what I wanted to do at a young age. After a moment of silence—which I understand coming from a family who all are engineers, professors and educators—they said ’whatever you do in life make sure you are the best.’

Q: What are your goals for your restaurant?

EO: In the last almost seven years, we raised the bar each year higher and higher. I am hoping to continue to raise the bar and I am hoping to continue to share my love for sushi with everybody. 

Q: How do you think your role as a chef affects your community?

EO: We feed people, meaning we take care of people. We enjoy taking care of people. Also, some of us, including myself, are continuously involved in many charities, helping them raise even more money by being part of it. We are also educators. In my case, I am showing eating healthy can be delicious and lots of fun.  

Q: If you could only use three ingredients for your food, what would your choices be and why?

EO: Hamachi, feta cheese and microgreens. Shockingly, feta and microgreens go extremely well with sushi. 

On to the Next One: His second location, Sandfish by Engin Onural, is finally here! Engin’s goal is to make sure his “second baby” will be as successful as his first.

Dish it Out: Engin’s favorite dish on the menu? “I love them all.” He suggests trying the Spicy Tuna Tostada and The Venue Roll.

Native Knowledge: Engin is also a sake sommelier, so be sure to sample the extensive array of fine sakes.

The Venue Sushi Bar & Sake Lounge
73111 El Paseo, Ste 103
Palm Desert, CA 92260

Sandfish by Engin Onural
1556 N Palm Canyon Dr
Palm Springs, CA 92262

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JasmÍn is a true Jazzy of all trades. This girl boss keeps busy mothering, Life Coaching, photographing, legal assisting and studying as a Juris Doctorate candidate. Additionally, she appreciates all things fashion, food, art, and special events. She was born a Jersey girl, raised in San Diego and now lives in the OC. When she’s not wearing her sassy pants and finds free time, you’ll most likely spot her kickboxing, nama-slaying or catching good vibes and waves at the beach with her son. Guilty pleasure: Will work for shoes, bags and pumpkin frappes when in season. Hey, don’t judge unless you can walk on water.


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