OVER Easter I had a taste of what I imagine it must have been like queuing for food in the dog days of the Soviet Union.

Hours spent on a freezing street in Moscow circa 1989 hoping to pick up a loaf of black bread would have been pretty miserable I guess. Especially if they had run out by the time you got to the front of the queue.

Almost as bad as queueing outside the White Horse fish and chips place in Northallerton on Good Friday evening. A perfect storm of the appropriate religious holiday and a fire which meant the Victoria Grill further up the High Street was out of action had the town’s fish and chips production capacity cut by at least 25 per cent.

That meant an anxious wait of 45 minutes in a queue that snaked down the High Street and round the corner almost to the Applegarth car park.

There was little respite from a biting wind that came straight from the Urals. The anxiety heightened as a member of the White Horse’s staff came to check how many were in the queue. Were they about to run out of fish?

There were, of course, other options available. Should I have abandoned the wait and headed for Katch where the queue might have been as long, or risked a trip to the chippy in Malpas Road on the off-chance that it might have been open – something that seemed by no means a given based upon our previous experiences of its rather restricted operating hours?

In the event I stuck it out knowing the fish would be worth it (they certainly were) and comforting myself by sheltering in the handy undertaker’s entrance while observing the guy a couple of places ahead of me who was wearing just a T-shirt and shorts. Schadenfraude I think they call it.

I also thought about whether the Chinese restaurant across the Town Hall roundabout – Kam Bo House – would be able to provide a takeaway meal without booking one in advance.

Because the previous weekend we had sampled a Kam Bo takeaway and it was rather good.

At least I think it was because I freely admit I know next to nothing about Chinese food. It’s a cuisine I’ve not immersed myself in so my knowledge barely extends beyond the essential I Know What I Like.

I can tell you it’s been a difficult 18 months for Kam Bo owner Ben Tsoi – and not just for the obvious reason.

Before the pandemic even hit, he had just moved his business to new premises, rebranded it and was getting established again when he had to close his doors.

The move was forced by the redevelopment of his old restaurant My Asia at the other end of Northallerton High Street.

The takeaway business these past 12 months has been his salvation – and will be until at least May 17 as there is little opportunity for outside dining at its premises in Friarage Street which is probably a good thing. Alfresco eating in Northallerton’s most traffic-choked street would not be very appealing.

So Kam Bo takeaway is the only option for the time being and it terms of value it is hard to beat. Portion control seems to be an alien concept here.

The amount of food we received for just over £23 was so astonishing I went back and checked the online order confirmation email to see that I hadn’t inadvertently order everything twice.

No, one spring rolls, one sesame prawn toast, one chicken chop suey, one chicken chow mein, one egg fried rise and a single portion of chips.

But the pile of food we ordered along with a large bag of prawn crackers would have happily have satisfied four people – four hungry people at that. And it was all very palatable.

Eating Out at Kam Bo House, Friarage Street, Northallerton

Eating Out at Kam Bo House, Friarage Street, Northallerton

The chow mein seemed to have a 50/50 mix of soft noodles and bean sprouts which I liked but I know some would prefer more noodles. The chicken was plentiful and the soy-heavy sauce had not been over-thickened.

The mountain of egg fried rice was a bit clumpy but otherwise fine. The chips were good too.

Sylvia was much more enthusiastic about her chop suey – luscious was the word she used. She is a big fan of Chinese food.

Eating Out at Kam Bo House, Friarage Street, Northallerton

Eating Out at Kam Bo House, Friarage Street, Northallerton

Again, it was heavy on the bean sprouts but Sylvia loves ‘em. But she wasn’t so keen on the crunchy water chestnuts so they found their way to my plate. No complaints from me.

The spring rolls and sesame prawn toasts we ordered as starters were crisp and light despite the deep-fat frying.

Sadly, the prawn crackers were completely untouched and went straight in the bin (if anyone knows how to keep prawn crackers fresh let me know) as did quite a bit of the rest of the meal.

Which was a shame. My late mother’s words about starving children in the Third World were ringing in my ears as I did so. But those student days of finishing off last night’s takeaway for breakfast are long gone.

Kam Bo House

1a Friarage Street, Northallerton DL6 1DP

Tel: 01609 258120 Web: kambohouse.co.uk

Mon, Wed, Thurs and Sun 5.20-9pm, Fri and Sat 4.50-9.30pm. Closed Tues.

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 7 Portion control 0 Social distancing 7 Value 10