Josh Niland, an Australian chef, is well-known for his “gill to fin” approach to cooking and serving Fish. His restaurants offer more than just fish fillets.
The menu includes:
- Yellowfin and merguez tuna.
- Fish Wellington.
- Even chocolate macaron ice-cream sandwiches are made with tuna eyes.
Niland has won awards for his sustainable and creative cooking of Fish. However, his journey began with a mistake he made while working in the now-closed Sydney Fish Face restaurant nearly a decade earlier.
I forgot to wrap the Fish in a fridge that had a fan inside. Niland says that the skin on my Fish was extremely dry. The skin of the Fish popped off when I cooked it that evening. You get this gorgeous crunchy crackling on the top.
Photo: Fysh, Niland’s new Singapore restaurant.
Niland began to experiment with new ways to serve Fish.
The 35-year-old chef operates five restaurants in Sydney with his wife Julie, who is the chief executive of their restaurant group:
- Saint Peter and Peterman, two sit-down establishments
- Charcoal Fish, a high-end chip and fish shop
- Two fish butcheries
Fysh is his first restaurant to be opened outside Australia. It will be located in Singapore’s Edition Hotel.
Niland, who was inspired by the world’s best steakhouses, including Sydney’s Rockpool Bar and Grill and New York City’s Peter Luger Steak House for the past four and a half years, had been searching for a chance to open a steakhouse that served Fish.
Singaporeans will be able to enjoy a variety of dishes, including “rib-eye,” “sirloin,” and “Chateaubriand” tuna, instead of the usual beef steaks or lamb racks.
Niland says that he is “trying to interpret fish as meat in order to [appeal] to people who don’t necessarily like fish or feel that it satiates them enough.”
The new Edition hotel in Singapore where Fysh’s is located.
Fysh’s plant-filled terrace. Fysh Photo
On the menu, you will find fish charcuterie and dry-aged Fish.
Niland finds it exciting to find new ways of serving Fish. For so long, Fish was associated with a lighter meal for women that didn’t fill them up.
“It is not very savory, but it has a lot of buttery sauces, lemons, and acidity. For me, I’m more interested in developing savory flavors within the Fish, which are meatier.”
If there is Fish on the table, it’s not uncommon to only see a fillet.
Josh Niland on the treatment of seafood at most restaurants
Niland has worked hard to learn the Singaporean taste.
Niland’s menu was changed by 90 percent in the first month after Fysh opened to suit the local market.
He says that Singaporeans are averse to extremes and appreciate subtlety.
Fysh serves Mooloolaba Yellowfin Tuna Rib-Eye, a dish that presents the Fish in the form of a classic steak. Photo: Fysh
“So, whether it’s salt too much or acid too much or sugar too much, there’s some friction there. When working with flavors and seafood, there’s greater respect for finding the right balance.
“I think both markets are well-traveled, Sydney and Singapore.” Singapore, in particular, because of its proximity to places like Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea. He says that it’s only a short distance from many places in the world with unique food identities.
Fysh is a Niland restaurant that has a deep-seated belief in minimizing waste when it comes to cooking fish. He believes in using all parts of the animal creatively and maximizing the amount of food.
Mooloolaba swordfish schnitzel at Fysh.
Saint Peter was his first restaurant.
Niland, as the sole director of his business, was driven by fear of failure. “My innovation and creativity were born from a problem. Niland says, “My name is on the rental, and I have four children.”
“I spent A$5,000 for my first fish bill at Saint Peter. “I spent A$5,000 on my first fish invoice at Saint Peter.
Fysh’s Mooloolaba yellowfin tuna cheeseburger. Fysh
Niland’s Saint Peter was not only a rejection of what he had been taught in college, but it also brought something new to the world. He is not interested in being referred to as a pioneer. Instead, he wants to change the perception of chefs and the public about Fish.
“Nothing is a secret.” It doesn’t matter until you share. Niland says that it’s not worth holding onto [knowledge]; you have to share it in order for it to be useful.
It’s the same reason why he has published three books in the last five years and posts so many different cooking methods on Twitter.
Niland’s efforts won’t go to waste.
In 2019, his first cookbook, The Whole Fish, was published. It offers new ideas on how to prepare, eat, and think about the Fish. The book was awarded two James Beard Awards in 2020 and the Andre Simon Food Award in 2019. He has since published two other cookbooks: Take One Fish and Fish Butchery.
It’s not me. “I’m trying to implement a new strategy that will allow me to work with whole fish without having half of it end up in the trash, as is typical in restaurants and high-end dining,” Niland explains.