Staycation & Cooking In @ Capri by Fraser
At the end of last year we booked for ourselves a staycation at Capri by Fraser located in the heart of Changi Business Park next to Simei MRT. It is a relatively new hotel and for me, the main attraction was the mini kitchen the room was equipped with. Since there was an online promotion going on, we got ourselves the deal for a one night stay, as well as a chance to test out their in-room kitchen!
First look at the room and we like it already. It was fairly spacious and what I particularly liked about it is the full pane French windows which extended all the way from the ceiling to the floor. The availability of natural light was brilliant but privacy was not compromised as the room also has shroud-like veil curtains as well as heavy and thick curtains. I also liked the use of bold colours in the room, in contrasting shades of white, black and orange. The small cushion pillows as well as wall art really helped to make the room more lively I thought. On the other hand, the carpet looked kind of worn out, probably due to the constant rolling about by the swivel work chair over it, not to mention the lack of maintenance as well.
Large screen LCD TV with a wall mounted consort that double up as a work station as well. The set up is simple and minimalistic but at the same time, giving the residing business traveller sufficient space for some proper desk work. I figured that given the proximity of the hotel from the nearby Changi Business Park where regional offices of several MNCs are located as well as Changi Airport, which is just a convenient MRT stop away, a large portion of the clientele base which Capri by Fraser aimed at attracting are the folks who come here for work and business. So the rooms would necessarily have been customised and configured to better suit the working needs of this crowd.
The bathroom was no less interesting. I especially liked the vanity mirror which was concave and provided really good magnification. It came with a ring of light which helped with illumination against the otherwise slightly warm and soft ambience created in the bathroom.
Wardrobe is also located in the spacious bathroom where one would find the iron and board, laundry basket, luggage rack, bathrobes and room slippers. I also noticed a good number of hangers provided for one to utilise. All in all I think the word “thoughtful” can be used to summarise what I saw, taking care of the needs of the occupants down to the last detail. Commendable indeed.
The toiletry pack provided which was pretty standard.
Capri uses the (Malin + Goetz) range of body and hair care products which was really wonderful.
The mini kitchen, that drew me to this hotel establishment in the first place. The decor was more of a modern European chic, with clean lines and flush finishes. On the countertop, one would find an induction cooker with two hobs, an electric kettle and adjacent to that, a large sink and then a built-in microwave oven. More to be revealed as one explores further.
Decent amount of crockery for one to use, a couple of ladles and spatulas, chopping board, heat-proof mat and a kitchen towel.
The second tier of drawers houses the cutlery as well as a can opener, kitchen scissors as well as a bottle cork remover. One would immediately be struck by something. THERE ARE NO PROPER KNIVES PROVIDED! Yes, we see some dining knives but those are no good to do any decent chopping or cutting. Perhaps there hotel has safety and security considerations to why proper cutting knives are not provided but what was most puzzling was, why the chopping board then?
The last drawer holds some drinking glasses, coffee mugs and two pieces of cooking ware, a small frying pan and a small pot respectively and both teflon coated incidentally. Well, truth be told, they are really too small to perform any proper culinary activity. The pot looked “well used” with some scruff marks on the bottom, probably from some light cooking by the previous occupants, presumably simple meals along the lines of instant noodles or canned soup. On the contrary, the frying pan looked new, either recently replaced or severely under utilised.
NO KNIVES? SMALL POTS AND PANS? Thankfully I already gotta know that through others. So I came “prepared” with my own hoard of things from home that included a small spice and condiment pack (butter, salt, sugar, dried herbs, cinnamon powder, five spice powder, maple syrup, cream cheese etc), some ingredients like eggs, dried porcini, onion, garlic, whole almonds, riped bananas (which are already on the verge of over-ripening), spaghetti and an instant pancake mix. Last but not least, I brought along some “tools” as well, a hand-whisk, a pair of kitchen tongs and of course, a proper cutting knife!!!
The room provided bottles of drinking water as well as two green apples. And I knew exactly what I could use the Granny Smith’s for!
Small selection of coffee and tea sachets as well as creamer capsules. The creamers could also be improvised for cooking as well!
The view out of our hotel window. A lot of construction work is going on in the vicinity for the Downtown Line to the Expo Station. Thankfully, the noise was audible but quite bearable during our brief stay. But I have read reviews where advice was given for folks to choose rooms which are not facing all that drilling and digging going on.
The other view of the hotel looking towards Changi City Point.
The weather was perfect for a swim and we headed down to the pool. The pool was decently sized and shaped like a contorted key hole with a small semi-circular shallower region on the far left end which served as a wading pool for younger children. The right end is a water jacuzzi area.
Interesting tanning beds that double up as rocking chairs as well as one lazes the afternoon away at the pool.
There is a “Surf and Play” room on every floor of the hotel which came with certain game amenities. Tucked at the end of each Surf and Play room is a laundromat, that comes with a washer and dryer. They are token-operated and one has to buy the tokens from the concierge to use the machines. Each wash is 12 bucks a pop. Kinda pricey we thought.
After a swim and walk around the hotel, we were ready to go do some grocery shopping. Beautiful display at the hotel entrance that abstractly resembles a flight of flamingoes duncha think?
The hotel also provides shuttle services to Marina Bay Sands (READ: CASINO!) as well as hourly transfers to and fro the nearby Changi Airport. But since the Airport is effectively only one MRT station away, so unless one has lots of time to spare or big and bulky luggage to manoveur, I would actually rather take the train service to the airport instead.
There is a Cold Storage at the basement of Changi City Point but we’d decided to head down to the nearby NTUC FairPrice Xtra located at Bizhub East instead, which is barely a short 5 minute walk from the hotel.
There is a good number of eateries and shops located within the Bizhub area, be it the North or South Towers but do take note that some of these restaurants and delis are closed over the weekends. Odd you might think but this is a business park after all, so their target group would actually be the lunch and dinner crowd working in the area. But one thing I love about FairPrice Xtra is it is open 24 hours. Really convenient to pop by to grab anything you may need no matter how late it is.
Our grocery basket at the cashier’s. J didn’t have a chance to eat tang yuan 汤圆 (glutinous rice ball dumplings) aka kueh ee during Tang Chek so here I am cooking it impromptu during the staycation!
Back at the hotel, we are ready to cook up a mini storm! First we had to settle dinner, which was fairly easy with a simple bacon and porcini cream pasta. Now when put into better perspective, one can really see how teeny the pot and pan really are!
Cooking the pasta proved quite a feat to start with…
After some contortionistic act, I finally managed to get all of it in…
The bacon was first sauteed in teeny bit of butter and more importantly, the fat which it rendered before adding onions and finally garlic. Last that went in were the reconstituted porcini.
When the spaghetti was cooked to al dente, the noodles are quickly drained. The sauteed ingredients are added and tossed with a bit of cream cheese, two capsules of creamer, as well as some milk and porcini soaking liquids.
The initial plan was to pan fry some pork chops to go along but we figured that it was too much work, so we settled for some roast chicken from NTUC instead!
Everything was finally plated and garnished with some dried and chopped parsley, chopped almonds and a handful of mesclun greens on the side. Voila! Dinner is served!
After some dinner and TV, I made the glutinous rice dumplings for dessert which was incredibly easy. It was basically just bringing a pot of water to boil, dumping the dumplings (pun intended!) into it and cook ‘em until they float before transferring them to a fresh bowl of water at room temperature. The dumpling cooking water was then discarded and the pot was filled with more water again and used to cook a simple syrup with brown sugar and pandan leaves. When the sugar has melted and syrup comes to a boil, the dumplings are carefully returned to the syrup and the everything is served and eaten in the pot! Saves the trouble of washing another bowl!
Yet another an hour or so later, it was time to cook supper!
But before that, I had to prepare something in advance for tomorrow’s breakfast… that is to cook some apples with brown sugar and cinnamon first. This would then go with the pancakes for breakkie the next morning!
So while the apples were stewing on low heat, I started by making french toast which is again, really fast and simple to do. Basically just slices of bread dunked into an egg wash with some white sugar added. I’d stirred in some cinnamon powder as well for good measure! The bread slices are then pan fried with butter until they turn beautifully brown.
The pan is then used to cook some caramelised bananas which takes only about a minute to do. It just involves a generous sprinkling of sugar into the frying pan and waiting for them to melt and caramelise slightly. Thickly sliced chunks of banana were then added and given a quick toss to get the caramel to coat onto them nicely while the bananas cook slightly until they exude that characteristic aroma which both of us are very fond of.
So very quickly, supper is served… French toast with caramelised bananas and some ice-cream to go along!
Next morning, I made breakfast in bed! First was to do pancakes. First time I am using the pancake mix from Daiso and they turned out really good! The probably only misgiving was how small the frying pan was that allowed only one pancake at a time…
To keep the pancakes really moist and fluffy, I kept them in the pot with the lid on while I prepared the rest of breakfast. First was to saute some bacon…
Then it was to cook the sausages which I scored slightly to accelerate the cooking process. We were famished!
And finally scrambled eggs… As I ran out of space over the countertop, the pancakes were transferred onto a plate and placed in the microwave instead while the pan was used to hold the bacon and sausages instead. All a game of making do with whatever is available.
Scrambled eggs take barely 1-2 minutes to do and before long…
Scrambled eggs are done!
Everything plated, sprinkling of some chopped parsley and pepper, breakfast is served!
Not forgetting the ceremonious drizzling of maple syup over the fluffy pancakes…
We had some mesclun left from last night’s dinner which was perfect to balance the otherwise carbs and protein packed breakfast!
Situated in the eastern end of the island, Capri would perhaps not the first hotel any tourist visiting Singapore would consider since it is quite far from the shopping belts in the Orchard or Marina area. Apart from some quick factory outlet shopping at Changi City Point, there isn’t really much going on in the vicinity. But for us, the staycation at Capri by Fraser served well as a quick getaway, to spend a little time and cook some simple stuff together. So if there is another promotion, or an opportunity that avails, we would find ourselves back here again exploring other parts of the hotel which we didn’t get a chance to visit during our brief stay, and perhaps cooking up another mini storm with other dishes in that mini in-room kitchen again!
NOTE: The hotel has a package for room + “cooking in experience” where simple ingredients were prepared and made available for the occupants. But we didn’t opt for that package but instead, chose a “room only” package which came with “late checkout” instead. I think we were right with the latter arrangement as it allowed us to plan our meals in accordance to what we wanted to eat and not be restricted by what the hotel provides.