Between David's answer and much staring at the paper I linked to above, I think I've mostly figured out what's going on there so I thought I'd post a summary of their method here as well in case anyone else had a similar problem. I'm focusing here on $how$ to use their algorithm, not $why$ it works: I found it was a lot easier to follow the theory once I knew where I was going!

Their setup is: given a field $k(x_1,\dots, x_n) = k(\mathbf{x})$ and a set of elements $\mathbf{g} = \{g_1, \dots, g_m\}\subset k(\mathbf{x})$, we can form the field $k(\mathbf{g})$ generated by the elements of $\mathbf{g}$ and then ask: given $f \in k(\mathbf{x})$, do we have $f \in k(\mathbf{g})$ and if so, how can we write $f$ in terms of the generators? The authors' aim is to answer this without resorting to using the lex ordering, which as mentioned above can be very slow.

So let $g_i = n_i/d_i$, and introduce a new variable $T_i$ for each $g_i$. Collect together all of the prime divisors of each of the denominators $d_i$ into a set $\{p_1, \dots, p_r\}$ (eliminate any repeats) and introduce a new variable $Y_i$ for each $p_i$.

In the polynomial ring $k[Y_1, \dots, Y_r, x_1, \dots, x_n, T_1, \dots, T_m]$ define the ideal $I=\langle n_1-T_1d_1, \dots, n_m-T_md_m, Y_1p_1-1,\dots,Y_rp_r-1\rangle$ and compute a Groebner basis of $I$. The only restriction on ordering is that you should have $\textbf{Y} >> \textbf{x} >> \textbf{T}$, within each block they can be ordered however you like.

Eliminate all terms involving any $Y_i$ from the Groebner basis; call the resulting set $G$. Let $H$ be the subset of $G$ involving terms only in the $T_i$: this may be empty. (This step seems to deal with syzygies between the generators, giving you the simplest result at the end and avoiding dividing by zero at any point.)

Let $S=\langle H \rangle$ and define $L = Q(k[\mathbf{T}]/S)$, so if $H$ was empty this is just $k(\mathbf{T})$. Let $\pi$ be the natural embedding $k[\mathbf{T}][\mathbf{x}] \hookrightarrow L[\mathbf{x}]$ and $G' := \pi(G)$.

If $f=n_f/d_f \in k(\mathbf{x})$ is the element of interest then introduce a new variable $A$ (so we're now in the ring $L[\mathbf{x},A]$) and reduce the polynomial $n_f-Ad_f$ to normal form wrt the Groebner basis $G'$: you should obtain an expression $N-AD$.

Optionally at this point, you can reduce $N$ and $D$ to their simplest form by reducing their numerators wrt $\pi(H)$; recall that $N,D \in L[\mathbf{x}]$ where $L$ is a localization of $k[\mathbf{T}]$ so they could be rational functions in the $T_i$.

If $D = 0$ then $f \not\in k(\mathbf{g})$. If $D \neq 0$ then solve $N-AD = 0$, i.e. $A=N/D$. If $N/D \not\in k(\mathbf{T})$ then $f \not\in k(\mathbf{g})$, otherwise $f=N(g_1, \dots, g_m)/D(g_1,\dots,g_m)$.

Whew! I hope that's fairly clear if you just want to apply the algorithm; if you want to understand why each step works, the paper I linked to in the question has all the technical details. I suspect it's essentially the same approach as David's answer, with a few tweaks to avoid necessarily using the lex ordering and to deal with relations between the set of generators.