Like many Singaporeans visiting Bangkok, I often drop in at one of the many Greyhound Cafes for my favourite dish when I'm in the Thai capital.
In my case, it's the coconut sherbet, a delicious balm against the city's stifling heat.
It boasts naturally sweet coconut juice and soft pieces of coconut meat.
So I was one of those waiting eagerly for its first outlet here to open.
And it did, about two weeks ago.
I have already dined there twice, first for dinner last weekend and then for lunch on a weekday.
The restaurant will have to make some changes to get me to return.
First, it needs to stop charging for tap water, which costs $1.
I do not patronise eateries that practise this because I do not buy their explanation that serving water adds to manpower costs.
It is a basic service for which I already pay a 10 per cent service charge.
Will I be charged $1 for cutlery next?
The restaurant has to pay a dishwasher to clean those too.
Second, Greyhound needs to train its servers here to smile.
I understand that business is brisk and they are under stress, but other restaurants face the same constraints without subjecting customers to sour faces and standoffish attitudes.
The more senior male staff are generally friendlier, but the women look so sullen that I am made to feel almost apologetic for making them bring me my food.
One of them plonks my dish on the table with a curt "Enjoy your meal" and disappears before I can catch her eye to ask what it is.
She obviously could not care less about my enjoyment.
Third is the long wait for the food - if you are lucky to snag a table without queueing for 40 minutes, which is what I had to do on my second visit.
An acquaintance at another table complains that her $1 glass of water arrives only after a reminder.
And my order of Crab Meat Fried Rice With A Twist ($28) arrives cold, which means it must have been sitting around for a long time before someone decided to bring it to me.
But when the dishes arrive as they should, they can be pretty good. The Coconut Ice Sherbet ($8) is as good as I remember it, for example.
The Complicated Noodle ($16) is another good dish.
It reminds me of a Thai appetiser called khao tang na tang, where you heap spoonfuls of minced pork and shrimp cooked in coconut milk on crispy rice crackers.
Instead of crackers, here you put the minced pork on kway teow squares and fresh lettuce leaves and top it off with a piquant chilli sauce.
The mix of flavours, coupled with the refreshing crunch of lettuce, is such a delight.
There is also the Spicy Spaghetti Thai Style ($26), which comes with seafood such as prawns, squid and cuttlefish fried with capsicum, cherry tomato, holy basil and fresh peppercorns.
The pasta is actually the skinnier spaghettini, which goes well with the delicious spicy sauce, and I especially like the distinctive taste of basil, which gives the dish its Thai character.
The only thing that spoils it are the plasticky prawns, which have an unnatural crunch and are tasteless.
Similarly bland prawns appear in the Pad Thai Prawns ($18), which is otherwise a worthy rendition of the Thai-style fried rice noodles that are mixed with crushed peanuts, dried shrimp and diced beancurd.
Some dishes do not impress, however.
The Greyhound Famous Fried Chicken Wing ($14) tastes pretty much like any well-marinated fried chicken wing, to be honest.
What is good about it is that each chicken winglet is sliced in two, making it easy to eat with one hand.
The Spaghetti With Corned Beef And Fresh Chillies ($24), the only dish on the menu labelled a "super duper signature", is not super either.
I taste more sakura ebi than corned beef, which may or may not be the little crispy bits tossed with the rather dry pasta.
A bowl of Braised Beef Noodle Soup ($16) boasts a nice broth, but the tender pieces of beef brisket are underseasoned.
And the "beef balls" mentioned in the menu turn out looking and tasting suspiciously like pork balls.
Another beef dish, Weeping Tiger With Spicy Pesto ($19), also disappoints.
Perhaps I have been spoilt by the good selection of beef available in Singapore restaurants, but the tough pieces of grilled beef making up this dish are not worth putting my jaws through the rigorous chewing required.
With some good, some mediocre and some forgettable dishes, Greyhound is a place I may go back to when the stress factors are no longer there.
Otherwise, there are many other places in Paragon I can go to for a good meal.
The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.
01-25 Paragon, 290 Orchard Road, tel: 6887-3350 (no reservations)
Open: 11am to 10pm daily
Price: Budget from $40 a person, without drink
This article was first published on Dec 25, 2016.
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