OMG Squee Serves Up Adorable and Scrumptious Asian-American Treats
Owner Sarah Lim makes desserts from her childhood that taste even better than they look
By Darcie Duttweiler
Portraits by Brittany Dawn Short
Photos by Layla Mays
Sarah Lim had a eureka moment while walking the aisles of an Asian supermarket. Having been burned one too many times by a package’s cutesy exterior only to discover the contents inside did not taste good, she was inspired to create her own concoctions that tasted equally — if not more — delicious than they looked.
“You eat with your eyes and your taste buds. So if you’re excited, you don’t want to lose the excitement when you bite into it and you’re like, ‘Oh, well, that doesn’t taste good at all,’” Lim says.
Thus, OMG Squee was born.
Well, sorta. It’s obviously a much longer story than that.
Originally Lim was a freelance photographer, but she realized as she started to approach 40 that the lifestyle and business were really hard to maintain. Being a woman of many hobbies and interests, she remembered her love of cooking shows as a kid, and she taught herself to make macarons out of her kitchen. Realizing there weren’t that many places she could get the Asian sweet treats she grew up with, she started experimenting with flavors she loved and incorporating fun characters into her designs.
Also, because she has an autoimmune disorder, Lim discovered she could make gluten-free desserts that were actually delicious, so she graduated from macarons to mochi donuts, Japanese cheesecakes and other Asian baked goods.
“I was really tired of eating bad food,” she laughs.
Eventually, her and partner Michael DeAnda’s kitchen was overrun with baking supplies as they launched OMG Squee in 2017 as a farmer’s market pop-up before finally landing in a permanent space on the east side in late 2019.
Nowadays, the pastel pink shop has lines of people waiting to get their hands on Lim’s sweets, which usually come in rotating flavors, as well as regular standbys, like ube ice cream served in taiyaki (a fish-shaped cake), cookies and cream macarons and typically anything yuzu or black sesame.
Besides the absolute deliciousness (and cuteness) of her desserts, Lim has become somewhat of a minor celebrity herself, which she totally shrugs off, due to an episode of “Queer Eye,” where the Fab Five took her under their well-manicured wings to give her an external and internal makeover, as well as spruce up the shop.
“I don’t have words to describe it,” Lim says. “It was such a whirlwind. It is still hard to believe people would be interested in my story. I’m not used to people paying attention to me.”
While self-described workaholic Lim admits it was hard letting other people do the work, she says that she loved getting to spend time with the “Queer Eye” folks off camera, especially Tan France, whom she bonded with over their love of baking and their Asian heritages. She admitted on her episode that it hasn’t been easy being an Asian-American business owner, especially at the height of the pandemic, and during our chat, Lim recounted several microaggressions she’s received because of the food she serves.
“Sometimes people ask us why we don’t have anything ‘normal,’” she explains. “We make things perfectly normal, but it just might be new to them.”
However, Lim says that most people are very excited to try new things. I mention to Lim that my Japan-obsessed 14-year-old niece was excited to find a place where she could try ube for the first time.
“I love when people are appreciative they can get things that maybe they can’t necessarily get at other places!” says Lim.
When asked about any future plans, she laughs a bit and admits she’s still working way too many hours and can’t possibly think of the future just yet. OMG Squee constantly rotates flavors, and the shop makes a big deal out of certain holidays, like the Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day and Halloween, but Lim has no other grand ideas other than to keep producing high-quality scrumptious sweets.
“OH!” she exclaims as we’re wrapping up. “We’re getting a new website soon, and we’ll have T-shirts online. It’s probably the one question we get a lot of.”
It’s true. The, of course, adorable pink OMG Squee shirts can never stay in stock, and Lim says she even found a website selling bootleg versions of them. So, while the line wrapping around the porch the Fab Five graced may never any get shorter, at least people will be able to purchase authentic shirts online.