Sungari Pearl may be in the same ZIP code as House of Louie and the Republic Cafe, but its high-gleam Pearl District location is in a whole different stylistic nation than gritty Chinatown. (And don't even try to compare the atmosphere here with that of the "new," strip-mall Chinatown on 82nd Avenue, which is both trashier and more genuine.) This is Chinese for the Aeron-chair set. The prices—higher by a tax bracket than your average dragon-bedecked dining hall—and shimmery atmosphere don't impress everyone, as a quick sample of local foodie-blog traffic demonstrates. But for most (including this recent visitor), the combination of fresh ingredients and schmancy atmosphere makes a refreshing change. A roster of mainstays (General Tso's chicken) reassures the timid, but the Pearl's menu is full of much more rare beasts (corn soup). And while it's not what comes to mind first at the thought of the mysterious East, it's worth stamping your passport here. (ZD)