Mai Dan Lao is great for a lot of reasons:
1) It's ubiquitous in China. Large metropolitan areas usually have at least one franchise. Special economic zones may boast 20 or more.
2) It's inexpensive. A value meal comes with a sandwich (the double cheeseburger is my favorite selection) or a chicken dish (American nuggets or Chinese delights) along with fries and a drink. In China, the drink and fry sizes run smaller, so I make sure to splurge an extra 2 kuai (about $0.25) for the super-size meal, which usually lands a drink about the size of an American medium.
3) It's relatively healthy. As many stray chickens and cows as I've seen in China, I'm assuming that all the meats here are "free-range," meaning they were grown in pasture land away from all the evil growth hormones American farmers use to fatten our cattle and poultry (I'm totally making this up). Also, as I said before, the sizes run smaller. Smaller portions equal less unnecessary fat and sugar intake. Heck, they don't even let you refill those 20-oz. cups they're passing off as super-size Cokes.
4) It's relaxing. Almost every time I've eaten at Mai Dan Lao, it's been after coming in from long walks around the city. And to ensure comfort and relaxation, they don't even make you take your tray to the trash can. They have bus boys to take care of that.
5) It's much better than McDonald's. While fast food jobs are looked down upon in America, working at a fast-food franchise in China is the fast track to success. And the quality of the food and service in China compared to America reflects this disparity. The Chinese employees, who are happy to have beaten out the stiff competition for their jobs, take their work seriously and in turn deliver fresh, piping hot food to the customer quicker than you can say "cheeseburger." American workers generally grumble and complain about their jobs, and half the time they don't even get your order right.
There's just one thing that bothers me about Mai Dan Lao. Aren't they infringing on some kind of international copyright laws by using those golden arches and even being bold enough to write McDonald's on the sign? With such a difference in quality, it can't be the same restaurant, can it?