The Story of Ku Su
Ku Su is a town built on Mount Ku Su situated in Wu Country, Jiangsu Province. As the story goes, it was built by King Fu Chai of the state of Wu during the Spring and Autumn period. Later, the Wu Country was also named Ku Su, after Mount Ku Su.
During the Spring and Autumn period, the state of Wu and State of Yue were at war. King Fu Chai of Wu defected the State of Yue and captured King You Jian and his consort. Fan Li, Minister of Yue decided to use a sex-trap as a means to restore their state. He offered Xi Shi, a great beauty to King Fu Chai. To win heart, King Fu Chai built a magnificent palace at Ku Su.
Overjoyed at his military accomplishments, King Fu Chai slavished himself with all forms of sensual pleasures. He summoned the best chefs in his state to prepare the most exquisite cuisine at his palace. Officials all over the state followed suit and soon the Ku Su Chefs became extremely popular and were in great demand. Being a tyrant, King Fu Chai indulged himself at the expensive of his people. His endless revelries and abandonment plunged the people into depths of suffering. When the people’s rebellions feeling ran high, Gou Jian took the opportunity to invade and annex the state of Wu and set fire to Ku Su.
The people of Wu blamed the Ku Su chefs for their State’s downfall and therefore boycotted them. The chefs had no choice but made a fresh start somewhere else. Most of the chefs migrated southwards to Guangzhou (Canton) which was then still undeveloped and untouched by Han culture. As a publicity stunt, these chefs claimed that they were the celebrated chefs from Ku Su, once hand picked by the gourmet King Fu Chai, and that their cuisine was time-tested royalty specialties. So, the chefs’ popularity grew enormously. The food industry of Guangzhou was bolstered tremendously and Guangzhou became a gourmets’ paradise.
About a hundred years ago, when the Chinese immigrants set up restaurants in Malaya, they used the name Ku Su to connate the excellent quality of their cuisine. There are now six Ku Su Restaurant Associations in Malaysia. Apart from the one in Penang, the names of all other Ku Su restaurant associations contain word “Shin”. We have the Penang Guang Chun Tang, Taiping Shin Yuan Hung, Ipoh Shn Chan Hung, Selangor Shin Choong Hung, Negeri Sembilan Ku Su Hung, Malacca Shin Xing Hung and Singapore Shin Jing Hung which is in our neighboring country, Singapore. All of them are over 100 years old. The one with the longest history is Penang Ku Su Guang Chun Tang.
While looking back on the past, we also look forward to the future. Our ancestors had gine through all kinds of hardships and difficulties to give us a fine tradition of Chinese food culture. It is pertinent that the younger generation should make the best of their improved environment and uphold the “Ku Su” spirit – aim for excellence. They should strive ahead to combine the fine tradition of Chinese Food Culture with modern innovations so that the Malaysian Chinese Cuisine will earn the applause of gourmets all over the world.