Kotobuki Sushi in Laguna Hills is one of those neighborhood sushi bars that reminds me how far along we've come in embracing sushi into our stomachs and our culture. It was recommended to me by a friend who wasn't Asian and when I ate there there were no Asian faces anywhere in the restaurant except those of the people who were cutting the fish.
It's been around 25 years, not exactly in this spot, but a few yards away in the same plaza that also has Break of Dawn. The landlord relocated both of them to their present locations a few months ago to make way for apartments. And here Kotobuki will stay for probably another 25 or until its head sushi chef and owner decides it's time to hang up the knives.
You'd, however, be wrong to assume that Kotobuki doesn't offer omakase (it does). And when you do order it, you should wash it down with what seems to be the house drink: the Sayuri Nigori Sake.
It comes in a pink bottle so kawaii, I was told a friend of a friend ordered it here because she thought it would taste like Hello Kitty and strawberries. It doesn't, of course, but it is creamy since it's unfiltered and also, rather sweet. It's the sweetness that hides an ABV of 12.5%, but it still goes very well with anything you eat here, even the most delicate of fish.
Despite the sweetness, it finishes as clean as a thinner. At some point, you wonder how some Calpico would taste as a mixer. But that would be a waste. Besides, somewhere around the second shot, you'll get a hint of coconut milk and, wait a sec, yes, strawberries. Or is that pink label playing with your head?