By Daneet Steffens
Updated January 23, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

EATING CHINESE FOOD NAKED Mei Ng (Scribner, $21) Chinese-American Gen-Xer Ruby Lee was raised in an apartment over her father’s laundry in Queens, N.Y. She later escaped across the river to Columbia University, asserted herself with a steady boyfriend, Nick — whom she is not quite loyal to — and landed a temp job to see her through her first postgrad summer. But finances and family dynamics end up pulling her back into a household caught in a familiar struggle: The parents are from the old country, determined to maintain old-world customs; the children are desperate to be part of the new. Eating captures that relationship in tautly written prose, without ever succumbing to sentimentality. B+