“No one knows what time Nguyen Dinh Phong left his low concrete home in Nghe An Province, in the heart of Revolutionary Vietnam. The skinny 27-year-old heroin addict had already stolen everything he could from the people he left sleeping at home—his wife, his kids, his aged parents. So he screwed a fake license plate to his motorbike, grabbed a snare pole, and set off into the damp, bug-addled night to score.
The shops lining the road sold all manner of escape, everything from beer to airline tickets. On the night in question, Phong cared most about the dog restaurants that offered delicious, testosterone-soaked nights off from girlfriends, wives, and mothers. Behind their bamboo curtains, guys like him could spend a night in a haze of rice wine and dark, gamey meat dressed up in fresh herbs, a spicy rhizome called galangal, and deeply-funky fermented shrimp paste.
Tonight, Phong hoped they’d offer a quick $20; all he needed was a dog.”