Singapore Isn’t Just Another Restaurant for Josh Niland, It’s a Step Forward in His Philosophy

josh niland singapore restaurant

Anyone who has met Josh Niland knows what it’s like to be instantly reeled into the world of holistic fish cookery. It’s exhilarating and eye-opening. Just when you thought you’d exhausted every possible way of using a fish, he goes and makes tuna pastrami.

Whether he’s personally handed you a plate of salt and vinegar King George whiting from behind the counter at Saint Peter or you’ve read one of his cookbooks, there’s no denying or escaping Niland’s zero-waste ‘nose-to-tail’ philosophy. Nor should we be ignoring it.

Across Sydney, Niland and his team at Saint Peter, Charcoal Fish, Fish Butchery, and Petermen have been preaching their sustainable and ethical seafood approach through beautiful, simple, flavoursome dishes. With his cookbooks, The Whole Fish Cookbook: New Ways to Cook, Eat and Think, Take One Fish: The New School of Scale-to-Tail Cooking and Eating, and his latest release, Fish Butchery: Mastering the Catch, Cut and CraftNiland has reached the far corners of the globe, prompting professional chefs, home cooks and everyone in between to look at fish with the same reverence we give meat—dry-ageing, primary cuts, sausages, charcuterie and more.

josh niland singapore restaurant
Photo: Rob Palmer

It wasn’t long until the world noticed what Niland was doing in the tiny pockets of Paddington, Rose Bay, and St Leonards. In 2022, Niland became the only Australian to make the Top 100 Best Chefs in the World List, taking home the fitting Best Chef Innovation Award award.

Now, he’s casting a line into international waters for the first time. His catch? Singapore. Niland will be moving to the Lion City, opening a to-be-named restaurant in Singapore’s EDITION hotel this November.

However, as you might imagine, offers to replicate the success of Sydney’s iconic St. Peter had come his way before, this one felt different.

“It made my decision really easy,” Niland explained. It wasn’t just the prospect of opening another restaurant but the genuine enthusiasm and transparency of the EDITION team that sealed the deal. This collaboration was about creating something truly special and unique.

josh niland singapore restaurant
Photo: Nikki To

“If I can’t scale the practice I have within our small network of restaurants in Sydney, then it’s not practical for the rest of the world to engage with. So, I have to make it tangible. It’s a huge step in moving forward with my philosophy, but it will be worth it,” he said.

Singapore, a city known for its culinary diversity and abundance, presented its own unique challenges. Niland recognised the city’s lack of seasonal identity and the ease with which one could obtain any ingredient from around the world.

“It’ll be the biggest challenge, I feel, is putting up our own strict parameters around what we do and how we do it,” he mused. This challenge, he noted, was both exciting and professionally stimulating.

One of the cornerstones of Niland’s philosophy is the minimisation of waste, a commitment he plans to carry into the Singapore venture. To achieve this, he envisions incorporating a bar aspect into the restaurant, “where off-cuts and waste would find new life,” mirroring the innovative practices of his Sydney restaurants.

josh niland singapore restaurant
Photo: Rob Palmer

Beyond the culinary excitement, this venture holds the promise of global recognition. Niland sees it as an opportunity to communicate his unique approach to fish cuisine to a broader, international audience.

“Seven hours from Sydney seems to be the gateway to the world, and seven hours beneath Singapore seems to be the edge of the earth, so it’s nice to feel as if I’ll be cooking with a few more eyes on what we’re doing,” he admitted, highlighting the importance of international exposure and praising Australian media for “strengthening the identity of what we do here in Sydney.”

Niland confessed that the upcoming restaurant wouldn’t exclusively feature fish, though seafood would play a predominant role. He expressed his eagerness to infuse a touch of Singapore into the menu, saying, “My cuisine isn’t confined to a specific label like French or Italian; it’s centred around the art of whole fish cookery, a versatile technique adaptable to various cuisines.

josh niland singapore restaurant
Photo: Petermen

“Establishing the same culinary identity we’ve cultivated in Sydney might take us a couple of years in Singapore. You can’t simply introduce items like salami on day one; we need time to identify the bits and pieces that have gone to the side and what will become of them.”

With a November opening on the horizon, Niland’s anticipation is palpable. His dedication to being actively involved in the project is unwavering. He stressed the importance of training the team and ensuring the restaurant’s quality and consistency.

“I’ll be heading over in the next month or so just to get the wheels turning,” he revealed, showcasing his hands-on approach. Niland will be making Singapore his second home, making the jaunt across the ocean as much as he can to “see everything, taste everything, and make sure that people have an experience that I’m proud of,” he said.

With this new venture in Singapore, Niland is poised to make waves on an international stage, crafting dishes that redefine how we perceive and savour the ocean’s bounty. As the November opening approaches, all eyes are on Josh Niland, eager to witness the next chapter in his culinary odyssey.

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