We've asked a trio of local chefs to help us crack the case on these obscure menu items.
What it is: "Fennel is a vegetable, but it also has a flower. The pollen is commonly used in Italy because of its sweet, aromatic flavor," says Paul Minnillo, chef and owner of Flour. "Fennel pollen is subtly sweet like anise, but very strong." How it's used: "For the bianca wood-fired pizza, I dust a little bit of the pollen on each slice," says Minnillo. Try it: Bianca wood-fired pizza with ricotta, cauliflower and fennel pollen, $11. 34205 Chagrin Blvd., Moreland Hills, 216-464-3700, flourrestaurant.com
What it is: "The mung bean is the bean from which bean sprouts come," says Bac Nguyen, chef and owner of Bac Asian American Bistro & Bar. "They're soft little beans covered in a hard shell. Usually they come dried and the shell has already been removed." How it's used: "The mung beans are folded into the crepe," Nguyen says. "You have to steam them to make them edible." Try it: Coconut milk crepe, $9. 2661 W. 14th St., Cleveland, 216-938-8960, bactremont.com
What it is: "Tamarind is indigenous to Africa," says D'Vine Wine Bar chef Robert Broka. "It's a seed pod and it's kind of sweet — it's a fruit. It's a little bit sour, a little bit sweet." How it's used: "I use the dried seed pod to make a tamarind vinaigrette for my beet salad," says Broka. Try it: Beet salad with roasted red and golden beets, arugula, Belgian endives, tamarind vinaigrette, Spanish goat cheese and marcona almonds, $10. 836 W. St. Clair Ave., Cleveland, 216-241-8463, dvinewinebar.com